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SLDN to Obama: Ban LGBT Military Bias With Executive Order

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A gay servicemembers advocacy group is urging President Obama to issue an executive order barring discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the military.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has launched an online petition calling on the commander-in-chief to use his executive power to prohibit anti-gay bias in the armed forces. SLDN says such an order would “give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment.”

SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis tells OutQ News that he’s concerned about the “absence of a clear strong statement” that says the military does NOT permit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Right now, federal law only protects military personnel based on race, color, sex, religion, ethnicity and other factors.

Sarvis says the policy change, wherever it comes from, is necessary to help vulnerable troops feel more comfortable around their colleagues.

SARVIS: What we really want and need here are these forceful policy words. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from the President, Secretary [Leon] Panetta or in the [Department of Defense’s] Human Goals Charter.

This is SLDN’s SECOND call for an executive order, the first coming back in February. Sarvis says his group is optimistic, despite any “positive signal” that such a change is imminent.

The group’s online petition had more than 700 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

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