Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Lieberman and Mark Udall are calling on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to assist gay veterans discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

In a letter to Panetta, the lawmakers called on the secretary to use his authority to streamline the process of removing references to a veteran's sexual orientation in his or her discharge paperwork.

The senators noted current guidance, which says that while “each request must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” having “an honorable or general discharge should normally …. indicate the absence of aggravating factors,” before saying that the current process of altering discharge paperwork is “protracted and overly burdensome for veterans who … should be entitled to have their discharge documents corrected.”

“We understand that changing discharge paperwork is not a small matter and that in most cases a careful case-by-case evaluation is warranted,” the lawmakers wrote. “But as long as a former service member's Narrative Reason for a discharge is 'Homosexual Conduct,' 'Homosexual Act' or 'Homosexual Marriage,' that service member is compelled to be 'out' to any future civilian employer and anyone else who sees the document. Likewise, the negative reentry code serves as a barrier to employment opportunities.”

“Therefore, the process should be streamlined for those veterans discharged under DADT who have honorable or general discharges and only seek changes to their narrative reason for discharge and their reentry code. … The Department should further clarify that, where there are no aggravating factors in the service member's record, the presumption should be in favor of the correction.”

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), joined in calling for the changes.

“It's time to expedite this process to ensure that this discriminatory law doesn't do further damage to our veterans and their families,” Sarvis said in a statement.