Washington, D.C. – Today, the Center for American Progress released a report articulating why civilian workplace protections are especially important to LGBT service members and veterans, who must shoulder the burden of LGBT discrimination in addition to overcoming challenges to employment that veterans face when they return home from war.
This report highlights some federal government actions to combat service member and veteran unemployment and the ways in which these actions fall short for LGBT people. Subsequently, the report reviews the barriers to economic stability experienced by some LGBT workers in the general population and identifies additional challenges facing LGBT service members and veterans specifically.
“The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ meant that the brave men and women who volunteer to defend this country no longer have to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. Unfortunately, the minute a service member and hangs up the uniform, his sexual orientation once again becomes grounds for discrimination, as a majority of states do not have laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT Americans,” said Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice Present for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress. “It’s unacceptable that we send men and women overseas to defend our values, such as equality, only to deny them these basic freedoms as soon as they return home.”
This report recommends the following actions be taken to address discrimination against LGBT service members and veterans and to give these Americans a fair shot at making a living and participating in our growing economy:
Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, to ensure that every service member and veteran has an equal shot at finding employment when they finish their tour of service.
Alongside an inclusive ENDA, President Barack Obama should issue an executive order banning discrimination among federal contractors.
Congress should pass the Restore Honor to Service Members Act in order to prevent discrimination and scrutiny in hiring service members discharged prior to 1993 for sexual orientation.
Congress should pass the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, so that the Department of Veterans Affairs can recognize the legal marriages of all veterans, regardless of where they live.
Congress should repeal the “license to discriminate” language that was included in the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, so that commanders have the proper tools at their disposal to prevent harassment and discrimination in the ranks.
The Department of Veterans Affairs should continue to expand LGBT-inclusive health care policies, especially for transgender veterans.
The Department of Defense should review and update the medical regulations that govern enlistment in order to remove unnecessary barriers to service.