POLITICS

Rhode Island To Restore Benefits For LGBTQ Veterans

According to the Associated Press, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed legislation promising veterans benefits for LGBTQ service members discharged for their sexual orientation.

This new state law establishes a process for veterans removed from the military for being part of the LGBTQ community and reclassifying their discharge as honorable, making state and local benefits available to veterans removed from service preceding former President Barack Obama’s repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in the military. 

The Clinton Administration first introduced the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in an effort to allow gay and lesbian service members to continue serving if they did not reveal their sexuality. Prior to this policy, LGBTQ were not allowed to serve in the military at all, leading to many veterans being dishonorably discharged from the service for being gay between World War II and when the DADT policy took effect. 

Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson of Rhode Island, who sponsored the legislation, told the Warwick Post, “Today, gay members of the armed forces can serve proudly and openly since ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was repealed,” she said. “But that doesn’t absolve us of our duty and obligation to those who served with honor before then. Many gay service members who were unceremoniously shown the door have been denied benefits for decades."

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