(CNSNews.com) - A homosexual advocacy group Monday launched a weeklong celebration of homosexuals in the military in an effort to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"America's lesbian and gay veterans have been on the front lines of every military mobilization and have played an integral role in our national defense since the American Revolution," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
Osburn called the celebration a way for homosexual veterans to "be made visible and their sacrifice must be honored by allowing future generations to serve openly without the muzzle of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" enforcement regulation, adopted by President Bill Clinton in 1993, removed the requirement that recruiters ask about a recruit's sexual preference. At the same time, the new policy made clear that a homosexual should not volunteer the information, because the law officially excluding homosexuals from serving in the military would remain in place.
The degree to which the policy is enforced is subject to change with new administrations, but President Bush has also decided not to require that recruits be asked about their sexual preferences.
The SLDN "salute" includes online profiles of 39 homosexual veterans and a web log for heterosexual veterans to show their support. It will culminate Friday, Veteran's Day, with a $50-per ticket event in San Francisco and a rally in Oakland.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said she's skeptical of anything the SLDN produces because "their materials that they put out routinely have been found to be less than credible.
"They mislead young people to believe that they are eligible to serve in the military even if they are homosexual and I have a problem with that," Donnelly said. "I think young people need to know what the law is; they're not going to get straight facts from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network."
Donnelly said she thinks SLDN is "free to salute anybody that they choose, but the fact remains ... that if someone is homosexual, they are not eligible to be in the military." She added, "Obviously they're using Veteran's Day to advance their gays in the military agenda."
A spokesman for SLDN, Steve Ralls, said he doesn't think homosexual soldiers should be singled out for attention, but defended the group's celebration. "Gays and lesbians should absolutely be treated with equal respect to their straight counterparts," Ralls said, "however the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy makes that impossible."
Ralls said the week's events are meant "to give voice to those who are officially silenced by the military's ban" on homosexuals in the armed forces. His group's goal is to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and the law banning homosexuals from the military.
"We are waging a constitutional fight against the law, which we believe ... is clearly an unconstitutional invasion of privacy," Ralls said.
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