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Entries in Repeal (8)

Wednesday
Apr042012

Massacre Survivor William Petit Opposes Repeal of Conn. Death Penalty

David J Sams/Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- Connecticut state senators were expected to vote on a controversial death penalty repeal bill Wednesday, with family members of murder victims at odds over whether the bill should move forward or not.

The proposed bill would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. It would abolish the death penalty for future cases, but would not affect sentences for the 11 inmates currently on death row in the state.

One of the strongest voices against repealing the death penalty has been Dr. William Petit Jr., the lone survivor of a 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the brutal murders of his wife and two daughters. The two men convicted of the crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are currently on death row.

Republican minority leader John McKinney joined with other lawmakers, Petit and the family members of other murder victims to denounce the repeal bill at a news conference.

"We believe in the death penalty because we believe it is really the only true just punishment for certain heinous and depraved murders,'' Petit said.

Senate Democrats also gathered Wednesday morning in Connecticut to unveil an amendment to a bill that requires harsher sentences for those convicted of "murder with special circumstances."

Majority leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said inmates in this tougher program would face conditions similar to those of current death row inmates.

Petit does not believe this type of amendment would be enough.

"There is no such thing as closure when your loved one is savagely taken from you," Petit -- along with his sister Johanna Petit Chapman -- wrote in a statement to the New Haven Register in March. "There can, however, be adequate and just punishment and that is the death penalty."

Family members of other murder victims have united to support the repeal. About 100 relatives of victims signed a letter of support for abolishing the death penalty.

"The death penalty, rather than preventing violence, only perpetuates it and inflicts further pain on survivors," the letter reads. "The reality of the death penalty is that it drags out the legal process for decades. In Connecticut, the death penalty is a false promise that goes unfulfilled, leaving victims' families frustrated and angry after years of fighting the legal system."

The letter argues that the money spent on the "broken system" could be better used supporting victims' services.

In the past 40 years, Connecticut has executed one person. In 2005, serial killer Michael Ross, 45, was executed for killing four Connecticut women in the 1980s.

Democrats have said they are optimistic the bill will pass, but minority leader John McKinney has expressed doubts. If the bill does make it past the state's House of Republicans, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has said in the past that he would sign and abolish the death penalty.

If Connecticut abolishes the death penalty, they would join New Jersey, New Mexico and Illinois as states that have done so in recent years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Is Officially Over

Bill Clark/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With virtually no fanfare, the Pentagon's policy of forcing members of the military to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or else face discharge ended on Tuesday, meaning that all branches of the armed forces can now act on applications from openly gay and lesbian people.

"Don't ask, don't tell" -- first instituted after long debate in 1993 -- was repealed by Congress last December and signed by President Obama.  Since then, the Pentagon has reviewed its policies and had all 2.25 million current military members undergo training to ensure an orderly transition.

Before the repeal, the Pentagon conducted a survey and found that most soliders said that having homosexuals among them would not be disruptive.  The Marine Corps was the least receptive to the idea.

Over the past 17 years, 14,000 service members were kicked out of the military for being gay or lesbian.  Many said they were "outed" by others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

President Obama Certifies Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Friday certified a repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military, a law which he said “undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality.”

“Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian,” Obama said in a written statement.

The president announced that he has formally repealed the 17-year-old law after an Oval Office meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. The repeal will take effect 60 days from now.

“As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country,” said Obama, who initially signed legislation to repeal the law in December.

The president commended the nation’s civilian and military leadership for moving forward with the change and thanked the men and women in uniform for their “professionalism and patriotism” during this transition.

“As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness,” he said.

“Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans,” Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Moves Forward

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon will announce Friday that the secretary of defense and the heads of each military branch have certified that "don’t ask, don’t tell," the military’s controversial policy barring openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces, is ready to be repealed.

The leaders of each service branch have determined that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly will not harm military readiness. The move paves the way for the policy to be overturned in 60 days.

The announcement will take place in an event at the Pentagon Friday afternoon, just shortly after new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is formally sworn in.

This is one of the final steps in overturning the longstanding policy whereby service members are not allowed to admit they are gay and the military is not allowed to ask if they are. President Obama pledged to reverse the policy, but only if military leaders agreed it is the right thing to do.

Congress repealed the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law last December, but the Pentagon still had to complete the certification.

As part of an effort to reassure the military leadership, individual service members and concerned members of Congress, last year the Pentagon circulated confidential surveys to members of the military and their families asking their views on gays serving openly and what effect they believed it would have on their ability to perform their duties in battle and at home.

The results ultimately contributed to the certification that will be announced Friday.

This year the policy has also been subject to a seesaw battle in the courts, that confused commanders, recruiters and service members about whether the policy was still in place and whether service members could still be discharged under it.

The Pentagon has already begun training programs to prepare service members and their families for the change in policy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

Court Rules Against DADT Even Though Pentagon Weeks from Full Repeal

Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Even though the Pentagon is midway through an ongoing process to repeal the "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" policy banning openly gay men and women from the armed services, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the policy can no longer be enforced worldwide.
 
Although Congress passed legislation in December saying that the controversial policy would be repealed, the legislation specified that the repeal would only take effect once the military had certified that it was prepared for the change.
 
On Wednesday a three judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that because “circumstances and balance of hardships have changed” the need for an injunction blocking a lower court ruling that found DADT to be unconstitutional was no longer necessary.
 
The ruling is a legal victory for gay rights groups who had grown frustrated with the Obama administration’s timeline, but it probably won’t have a lot of impact because the military has said it is “weeks away” from certifying the repeal. But the ruling is something a victory for the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group that had grown frustrated with the time the administration was taking to certify the appeal.
 
“The court’s ruling today finds that the government especially had no basis for putting that injunction on hold so that it could continue to investigate and discharge patriotic service members merely for their sexual orientation,” said Dan Wood, an attorney for the Log Cabin Republicans. “This is a tremendous victory for the many Americans who want nothing more than to serve their country honorably and patriotically without regard to their sexual orientation, but the real winner here is our Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all Americans, gay and straight, whether serving in our armed forces or not.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun032011

DADT Discharge Was Because of Voluntary Outing

Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The first case of a gay service member being discharged since the signing of the law that begins the process of repealing the Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask Law involved an Airman who voluntarily outed himself to get out of the Air Force.

The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law barring gays from serving openly in the military is likely to be repealed in a few months, but until then the law still remains in effect.

Under the repeal signed into law last December, DADT won’t be reversed until 60 days after Defense Secretary Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and President Obama certify that the readiness of the force has not been affected.  To that end, all of the services are in the midst of training their forces for what will change when repeal occurs.  Top Pentagon officials have said they expect certification to occur in mid- summer; that will begin the 60 day clock to repeal.

But last night the Air Force confirmed that a DADT discharge had occurred on April 29.  The news was surprising because last October, Gates had raised the bar so high for a DADT discharge to occur that none had occurred since then. Under Gates’ directive a servic emember’s discharge could only occur after consultation between the secretary of the relevant service, the Pentagon’s General Counsel and top personnel chief.

That was all done to prevent a gay service member from being discharged involuntarily under the law, but it didn’t prevent a service member from declaring themselves to be gay and wanting to leave the service and that’s exactly what happened in this case.

According to Air Force Spokesman Maj. Joel Harper on that date, “the Secretary of the Air Force approved the discharge of an Airman under the provisions of 10 USC 654, after coordination with the DoD General Counsel and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Each of these officials evaluated the case carefully, and concluded that separation was appropriate.  The Airman in the case asked to be separated expeditiously.  Until repeal occurs, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' remains the law."

Harper says the Air Force expects to finish its training on June 30th, and there have been no reports of problems with the training.

In a statement reacting to news of the discharge, Alexander Nicholson, the Executive Director of the advocacy group Servicemembers United said “this appears to be a classic case of someone simply trying to use the fact that the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law is still technically on the books to get out of his or her service obligation.”  However, he said “it shows why the DADT law is flawed and harms the military - it can also be abused to allow someone to receive expensive training and then skip out on their commitment to serve, or it can simply be used to quit the military early by forcing an early separation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec212010

Troops Discharged Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Eye Return to Ranks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With President Obama poised to sign into law a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on Wednesday, ending the ban on openly gay troops, dozens of service members under investigation or with discharges pending could soon be in the clear and free to resume the careers they love.

Officials say the 17-year-old policy will remain in effect in the near term, however, until the president, defense secretary and Congress certify the military is ready to implement a repeal.  Then, a 60-day waiting period begins before the ban is officially removed from the books.

In the weeks ahead, the Pentagon is expected to revise policies and regulations to reflect the repeal, and train leaders on how to enforce the rules.  More than two million service members across the military are also expected to be briefed on what is expected of them and what is not.

Among the expected changes is non-discrimination against a military applicant who may volunteer that he or she is gay, opening the door to the return of thousands of service members whose careers were cut short after they were outed on the job.

Nobody knows for sure how many of the estimated 14,000 gays and lesbians discharged because of their sexual orientation will want to re-enlist or still meet the requirements for active duty, including age and fitness levels.

But some advocates estimate up to a quarter of those discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" could return to the force.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec152010

House Passes Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House on Wednesday passed a bill to overturn the military's "don't ask, don't tell" ban on openly gay members of the armed forces, pressuring the Senate to delay its holiday recess and take the last step to end the policy by voting on the bill.

The 250-175 vote sends the bill to the Senate for what proponents of repeal believe is the last, best chance to end the policy that forces service members from admitting publicly that they are gay.

Next year, Republicans will control the House and command more seats in the Senate, diminishing any likelihood of the ban's repeal.

"It's been a long time coming, but now is the time for us to act," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. said shortly before the vote.

"We know our first responsibility as elected officials. We take an oath of office to protect and defend, and our first responsibility is to protect the American people, to keep them safe. We should honor the service of all who want to contribute to that security." Pelosi said.

Democratic leaders in the Senate say they are committed to bringing the bill to a vote before Congress closes for the year. The Senate has many other important issues on its agenda, with just days left in the lame-duck session.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 







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