Military Readiness Enhancement Act reintroduced in Congress

Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) reintroduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act in the US House of Representatives today.  The bill [HR 1283] in the current session is identical to the two previous introductions in 2005 and 2007.  If a similar bill were introduced in the Senate, passed in both houses, and signed by the President, it would repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and allow Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual patriotic volunteers to enlist and serve openly.  It would also allow otherwise-eligible former service members who had been discharged under DADT to be reinstated.

The bill does not include Transgender service members as they were not included in DADT legislation and are discharged under medical policies; although some other countries that have allowed open gay service since the early 1990s also include permitting transgender volunteers to serve under specified circumstances. The bill also specifically does not allow for same sex partner benefits in order to avoid conflicting with DOMA; in some other countries that have allowed open LGBT service, partner benefits have been permitted, even in countries without same sex marriage. Currently, Canada provides the most unreserved and progressive regulations regarding open LGBT service and benefits.

Upon the introduction of the current bill, the White House issued a supportive statement, reiterating the president’s intent to repeal DADT, while at the same time making it clear that he intends to continue consulting with Pentagon officials on this matter.  Hence, thre is currently no timeline for further action.

It is extremely likely that DADT repeal will be heavily debated in April or whenever hearings for the Defense Authorization budget for 2010 are held in the House Armed Services Committee.

Upon reintroduction MREA had 121 cosponsors. This is a significant increase from 2005 when it opened with just 56 co-sponsors, as well as an increase from 2007 when it opened with 109 co-sponsors.