Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are among 22 Democrats asking the Pentagon to update its equal employment policies to include sexual orientation protections, something the senators say has not occurred in the three years since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, according to Buzzfeed.
“We are writing to strongly urge you to update the equal opportunity policies across the Department of Defense (DoD) and military services to prevent discrimination, harassment, or intimidation of service members based on sexual orientation,” the letter states. “In the three and a half years since the end of the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the military services have failed to include binding protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members in Equal Opportunity Programs.”
The letter continued, “While DoD has made great strides toward ensuring equal opportunity for its civilian workforce, based on sexual orientation, equal opportunity policies for the military continue to lag behind. Under Army, Navy, and Air Force policies, only race, color, religion, sex, and national origin are protected under equal opportunity policies by all three services. We ask that you carefully reexamine your current policies (Air Force Instruction 36-2706, SECNAV Instruction 5350.16A, and Army Regulation 600-20) and amend them to include sexual orientation as a protected category.”
Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner asked the letter’s original author, Sen. Chris Murphy, why gender identity was left out of the letter, a spokesman for Murphy, Chris Harris, told BuzzFeed, “This letter is an effort to close the book on the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ by urging the Pentagon to finally update its equal opportunity policies and ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Expanding rights and opportunities for transgender Americans seeking to serve their country is hugely important, but is a separate issue from fully implementing the repeal of DADT as passed into law in 2010.”
Just days after the Senators sent the letter, the Washington Blade learned from an anonymous source that the Pentagon may add sexual orientation as a protected class as soon as the end of the month.