President Biden Pardoning LGBTQ Vets Harmed By Uniform Code Of Military Justice Article 125 Will Help Black Vets

LGBTQIA+, Article 25, President Biden, the military, DADT, Dont Ask, Don't Tell ,LGBTQ

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President Biden made a pivotal move on June 25, announcing that he would grant amnesty to LGBTQ veterans who were discharged from the military after being convicted under the obsolete Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 125 for engaging in consensual intercourse. For people of color, the harm has always been worse, even under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), according to the Center for American Progress.  

But the law Biden addressed was one in which sodomy was criminalized  between consenting adults of the same sex from 1951 until its repeal in 2014 thanks to former President Barack Obama and Congress. Under Obama’s defense authorization bill, a new law was created, punishing only those military personnel who committed sodomy by force or rape, Washington Blade.

President Biden’s pardon today enables individuals affected by Article 25 to seek clemency, potentially restoring benefits that were previously denied due to their unfair discharge. The pardon does not extend to individuals convicted of non-consensual acts such as rape, Axios reported. Officials are uncertain about the timeline for this process and whether those eligible will receive retroactive compensation.


History of LGBT Discrimination in the Military

Discrimination in the U.S. military long in place against Black soldiers, began also targeting LGBTQ soldiers. It traces back to the 1940s when thousands suspected of homosexuality received a blue discharge slip, carrying significant stigma and dire repercussions for their futures, according to History.

During World War II, around 50,000 U.S. Army soldiers, as estimated by the War Department in 1946, were issued blue discharges that abruptly dismissed them from service. These discharges, often lacking formal procedures or investigations, effectively removed queer individuals, African Americans, people with mental health issues, and others deemed “undesirable” by the military. 

Positioned ambiguously between “honorable” and “dishonorable” discharges, blue discharges profoundly disrupted the lives of LGBTQ World War II veterans for decades. Marked with an “HS,” these discharges effectively outed recipients at a time when homosexuality was criminalized nationwide, leaving many veterans with criminal records and making it difficult for them to return to communities likely to reject them, CBS News noted.

They also raised red flags for prospective employers, hindering career prospects, and barred recipients from accessing benefits under the G.I. Bill—a crucial program offering veterans funding for education, housing, and unemployment support, essential for financial stability and social integration.


The Rise and Fall of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT)

The U.S. military continued to irreparably harm LGBTQ soldiers with the establishment of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that prohibited community members from serving openly in the armed forces between 1994 and 2011, overlapping with Article 25.According to the U.S. Department of Defense, over 13,000 soldiers were wrongfully discharged during the DADT era. 

Although a direct correlation is difficult to establish, a study conducted by the Jama Network in 2020 found that suicide deaths were high among gay veterans who enrolled in the VHA after fiscal year 1999.

Examining a cohort study using data from 8.1 million veterans, among 96,893 veterans identified as sexual minorities, suicide mortality was significantly higher when compared to both the general US population and the general veteran population. The mean age of sexual minority veterans was 46 years, with 68% male and 70% White.

Suicide accounted for 3.5% of all deaths among these veterans, with a standardized mortality ratio of 4.50 (95% CI, 4.13-4.99) compared to the general U.S. population. In 2017, suicide was the fifth leading cause of death among sexual minority veterans (3.8% of deaths), whereas it was the tenth leading cause in the general US population (1.7% of deaths).


Advocacy is Crucial

In a 2022 interview with NBC News, Elegance Bratton, a versatile filmmaker, discussed his film project, The Inspection, which is centered on a gay Black man. The narrative paralleled Bratton’s own experiences of homelessness after his family rejected him as a teenager due to his sexual orientation. Bratton turned to the Marines seeking direction, confidence and life transformation.

Drawing from his personal journey, The Inspection’s protagonist, Ellis French, like Bratton, not only struggled to navigate life as a young gay Black man but as one who lived through the era of the military’s DADT policy. The film underscores the importance of representation and visibility of gay Marines, highlighting their resilience and the barriers they overcome in pursuit of acceptance and equality within the armed forces.

“I wanted to make a film that could remind those folks that you matter, that you have within you the light to triumph over great adversity,” he shared.

Supporting LGBTQ veterans involves recognizing and addressing the unique challenges they may face due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or experiences while serving. President Biden’s move brings us one step closer to pushing for policies that protect LGBTQ veterans from discrimination in accessing healthcare, benefits, and other services. Fighting for legislative efforts that promote equality and inclusion within the military and veterans affairs systems is critical.


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The post President Biden Pardoning LGBTQ Vets Harmed By Uniform Code Of Military Justice Article 125 Will Help Black Vets appeared first on NewsOne.

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