Many people choose to serve in the military because of their commitment to serve their country and because of the opportunities provided by the military for education and employment. Lambda Legal has joined legal challenges to the constitutionality of the current policy by submitting friend-of-the-court briefs, and by arguing that lesbian, gay and bisexual service members deserve to be treated equally.
Lambda Legal began fighting discrimination in the military long before the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was enacted in 1993. We represented Margarethe Cammermeyer, Joseph Steffan and others with distinguished military records who were discharged after their sexual orientation was disclosed. Unfortunately, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has resulted in an even higher number of discharges than previous policy. In 2001, according to Service Members Legal Defense Network the number of military discharges based on sexual orientation reached a high of 1,273. Since 1993, more than 12,000 lesbian or gay members of the military have been discharged, including personnel with critical skills. Even though the justifications for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have been repudiated by many high-ranking military leaders, this discriminatory policy in effect still prohibits lesbians and gay men from serving their country, cuts short promising careers, and conveys the message that the U.S. government assigns lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals an inferior status.
Lambda Legal’s Impact
For more than 20 years, Lambda Legal has been challenging discriminatory policies against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals in the military, one of the country’s largest employers. Our litigation against the military seeks recognition of the constitutional right of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members to be judged by the same standards as all others.