California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a new law, sponsored by fellow Democrat Jacqui Irwin, which he said will help right some wrongs in regard to LGBTQ+ veterans who were discharged from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policies due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Under this law, veterans who were discharged as a result of DADT will receive assistance in amending their official records and being given access to education, health, burial and other benefits available to service members who received an honorable discharge.
“For decades, our bravest heroes, men and women who wore the uniforms of the armed services, had to hide who they really were, and many were other than honorably discharged if their sexuality was discovered,” Newsom said Saturday in a recorded message after confirming the bill had been signed.
LGBTQ+ service members were prohibited from enlisting in the military until 1993, when former President Clinton signed DADT into law. Under this law, LGBTQ+ military personnel were told not to share or acknowledge their sexual preferences.
In total, around 13,000 service members were discharged for violating the policy, according to the Williams Institute.
Congress agreed to repeal the law in late 2010, which therefore allowed, LGBTQ+ service members to serve without having any restrictions on what they could disclose.
The Department of Defense went on to create a path for veterans who had been discharged under the policy to ensure they received the full range of veterans’ benefits.
“But many veterans sadly don’t know or can’t even access this important process,” Newsom said of the process, adding that many veterans spent money on attorneys to help them obtain their benefits.
The law will require the California Department of Veteran Affairs to setup a Veterans Discharge Upgrade Grant Program to assist LGBTQ veterans who were discharged under DADT and to assist those who are eligible for veterans’ benefits amend their records and be granted access to their benefits.
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