California enacts law to help LGBTQ veterans
A new law in California will help military service members who were discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy because of their sexual or gender identity to restore their eligibility for veterans benefits, said Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday.
“For decades our bravest heroes, men and women who wore the uniform of the armed forces, had to hide who they really were, and many were not honorably discharged if their sexuality was discovered,” Newsom said. in a statement after announcing that he had signed the bill.
Gays and lesbians were banned from the military until the 1993 approval of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which allowed them to serve only if they did not openly acknowledge their sexual orientation. Rather than helping, supporters say, the policy has created more problems. In its entire history, the military has fired more than 100,000 service members because of their sexual or gender identity – 14,000 of them during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” period. The repeal of the law was approved by Congress and then President Barack Obama in late 2010 and took effect nine months later, allowing lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve openly.
The Department of Defense then created a pathway for veterans who had been discharged under the policy to receive the full range of veterans’ benefits. “But many veterans unfortunately don’t know or can’t even access this important process,” Newsom said, adding that some veterans trying to claim benefits have had to hire expensive lawyers and other helpers to navigate the process. . “We are taking steps to resolve this issue.” The law will require the California Department of Veterans Affairs to establish the Veterans Leave Upgrade Grant Program to help counsel LGBTQ veterans who have been released from a “don’t ask, don’t tell” perspective and to help those who are eligible to update and correct their records. and access veterans benefits.
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