Armed Forces Organizations, 500+ Veterans Announce Support of LGBTQ Federal Protections

May 19, 2021 • 2:05 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in honor of Military Appreciation Month, Freedom for All Americans released endorsements from major national armed forces organizations representing more than one million veterans and more than 500 individual veterans in support of federal nondiscrimination legislation to protect all LGBTQ Americans in all areas of daily life.

The signers and the letter — which was sent to U.S. Senators today to urge support of the Equality Act — can be found here: https://freedomforallamericans.org/veterans-tell-congress-to-pass-lgbtq-inclusive-nondiscrimination-protections/ It includes endorsements from six organizations, including the Modern Military Association of America; Minority Veterans of America; Combined Arms; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; SPART*A; and Service Women’s Action Network.

Today’s letter comes more than 10 years after the repeal of the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prohibited gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from serving openly; and after the Biden administration’s recent lifting of the transgender military ban. An estimated one million LGBTQ veterans currently lack federal nondiscrimination protections and remain vulnerable to discrimination across the country.

“LGBTQ service members put their lives on the line to defend our country’s values and they must similarly be ensured freedom from discrimination at home,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “Congress should pass legislation as soon as possible to update federal law and allow all Americans, including our LGBTQ veterans, to have basic opportunities and go about their lives without fear of being turned away or humiliated because of who they are.”

“LGBTQ service members, veterans, employees, and their families and loved ones should be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve for defending our country,” said Lindsay Church, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Minority Veterans of America (MVA). “We must keep dismantling discriminatory practices in the military and ensuring that the federal government updates our country’s civil rights laws to bring us closer to liberty and justice for all. A bipartisan supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections and Congress must prioritize enacting legislation that explicitly prohibits LGBTQ discrimination in all areas of life.”

“Since the founding of our nation there have been LGBTQ individuals serving honorably in our Armed Forces. Yet only in the last ten years did we allow them to serve openly in the ranks,” said Kelly Finn Störmer, Executive Director of Combined Arms Institute. “It is time that we continue making legislative progress and acknowledge that still in 2021, not all Americans have the same equal protections under the law. We must take action to immediately pass legislation that allows ALL Americans, including our LGBTQ veterans, to have the basic opportunities to live their authentic lives without ongoing fear of discrimination because of who they are.”

“Because of a lack of explicit protections under federal law, millions of LGBTQ people are still vulnerable to discrimination including those who bravely serve our country,” said LeAnne Withrow, communications director of SPART*A. “We are proud to sign this letter alongside hundreds of service members and the nation’s leading armed forces organizations advocating for equal treatment. American service members and veterans who are LGBTQ should be treated with the same values of dignity and respect at home that they fight for abroad. Congress must pass federal legislation like the Equality Act in order to bring our country closer to a place where all Americans can seek liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter who they are.”

“Active military service members and veterans have long shown their commitment to protecting freedom and fairness for all Americans,” said Jennifer Dane, CEO & Executive Director of Modern Military Association of America. “Millions of our nation’s service members have been LGBTQ, at least 114,000 of which were unfairly discharged under discriminatory policies like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ To this day, LGBTQ veterans continue to face challenges accessing basic services and rights they deserve.  Passing nondiscrimination legislation at the federal level is the only way to ensure the safety, access to care and employment, and basic dignity and respect all human beings deserve regardless of who they are or who they love.”

“Our LGBTQ veterans and their families deserve consistent and definite protections in every aspect of their daily lives,” said Deshauna Barber, CEO of SWAN (the Service Women’s Action Network). “It is unjust that the ones called to serve are met with discrimination in housing, healthcare, credit, lending, federally funded programs, and public spaces. By providing our support we ensure that our efforts to eliminate barriers, expand inclusivity, and create a safe environment for our servicemembers are met.”

The Equality Act would update federal civil rights law to ensure explicit and comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people from discrimination in virtually every area of life. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a bipartisan victory earlier this year and had a historic hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in March.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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