One of Equality Florida's strongest champions in the Florida Legislature, Rep. Rick Kriseman, is stepping up again on behalf of Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. He just filed a measure called a House Memorial (HM 1459) urging Congress and the President to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a discriminatory policy that requires LGBT service members to lie about who they are if they want to serve their country.
Here's Rep. Kriseman's announcement and HM1459, hot off the press:
Florida House of Representatives
Representative Rick Kriseman District 53
District Office: 1700 66th Street North, Suite 203 St. Petersburg, FL 33710 (727) 552-1380 (727) 552-1382 (fax)
Tallahassee Office: 303 House Office Building 402 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399 (850) 488-9337
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 1, 2010
CONTACT: Kevin King (Kevin.King@myfloridahouse.gov)
St. Petersburg, FL - Florida State Representative Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) has filed House Memorial 1459 urging Congress to adopt and the President of United States to sign into law legislation that repeals the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and institutes a policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation with respect to service in the U.S. Military.
"It's past time to end the failed policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". There are nearly eighty thousand gay or lesbian veterans who live in Florida. Brave men and women who served honorably, but also in fear. They deserved better, and today's service members deserve better. I urge our leaders in Washington, D.C. to move quickly in repealing this terribly ineffective law", said Representative Kriseman, who serves as a policy advisor to the House Democratic Caucus. More than 13,000 service members have been discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, including hundreds of service members in critical occupations, such as counterintelligence experts and medical specialists.
"Rick Kriseman joins our military's top leaders in recognizing that firing qualified military service members based on anti-gay prejudice is both un-American and hurts our military's readiness," said Nadine Smith, executive director for Equality Florida, the state's largest gay and transgender advocacy organization. "Those who choose to serve their country deserve respect, not discrimination."
Hundreds of language specialists have been discharged from military service under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, including 55 Arabic translators and nine Farsi translators, all of which are vitally important positions to intelligence gathering and are positions for which there is a critical shortage of qualified personnel.
"My wife and I have two children. We want them to grow up in a safe world. I wish this for all Floridians. There's no doubt that this policy makes us less safe and compromises the readiness and expertise of our great military", said Representative Kriseman.
HM 1459 is the only such bill filed in the Florida Legislature this session. It now awaits a committee reference and hearing.