The number of service members dismissed
from the military for being gay in 2009 was the lowest in a decade,
the AP reported.
In 2009, 428 troops were dismissed for
being gay compared with 619 in 2008, according to figures released by
the Pentagon on Monday. The highest number of dismissals occurred in
1997, when 997 service members were fired.
“It's very good news that discharges
continue to drop during a time of two wars, particularly in 2009,”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), said in a statement.
SLDN lobbies for repeal of the 1993 law
that bans gay and lesbian service members from revealing their
sexuality at the risk of losing their jobs. The policy is commonly
known as “don't ask, don't tell.”
“But it is 428 too many,” Sarvis
added. “We need to see the number go to zero and will continue to
urge Congress and the White House to pass full repeal in 2010 through
the defense authorization bill to end this law once and for all.”
Lawmakers are expected to take up the
issue of repeal after President Obama called for an end to the law
during his first State of the Union address last week.
On Tuesday, a
key Senate panel considering repeal legislation is expected to hear
testimony from top Pentagon officials on the policy.
A recent UCLA
study found 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people are currently
serving in the Armed Forces, approximately 2.2% of all military
personnel, and the military has spent up to $500 million implementing
the gay ban.