Bill would upgrade discharge records of gay veterans

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   June 19, 2013 at 12:27 PM  |  Updated June 19, 2013 at 1:37 PM   |   Comments

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June 19 (UPI) -- Two House Democrats introduced a bill on Wednesday that would require the military to update the discharge records of thousands of service members who were discharged on account of being gay.

Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said roughly 114,000 members of the armed forces were discharged because of their homosexuality, and that many received dishonorable discharges due to their sexual orientation.

Their Restore Honor to Service Members Act calls for a review of all discharges due to sexual orientation, and would upgrade these discharges to "honorable." It would also remove all references to a veteran's sexual orientation from their record.

"Our legislation ensures that gay veterans who selflessly served our country no longer live with tarnished records that prohibit them from receiving the recognition, benefits and honors they deserve," Pocan said Wednesday.

Pocan and Rangel said many gay veterans received discharges that were other than honorable. Dishonorable discharges can be treated as a felony, and those with even a "general" discharge on their record can have trouble finding work due to the classification.

"By enshrining the implementation of the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal into law, our country can finally close this dark chapter of our history and move forward," Pocan said.

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