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Published on February 22, 2024
Oregon Rep. Chavez-DeRemer Proposes Bill to Redress Military Discharges Due to Sexual OrientationSource: Facebook/Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer

In a push to rectify a past mired by discrimination, Oregon Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer has tabled the Recover Pride in Service Act, a piece of legislation aiming to overhaul the military discharges of veterans ousted on the grounds of their sexual orientation. According to a statement obtained by KGW, the bill not only proposes an upgrade to military discharges but also calls for the Department of Defense to set up a special unit focused on aiding these veterans through the process.

The Republican-backed bill covers service members affected prior to and during the tenure of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which was instituted in 1994 and eventually repealed in 2011. Chavez-DeRemer underscored the measure’s timeliness, declaring, "I think it's time to do the right thing...these people who are wrongfully discharged, we've accepted that, we've repealed it, now let's give them the benefits that go with that as if it didn't happen," as she told KGW.

The financial and emotional toll of these dishonorable discharges continues to impact the veterans involved, complicating their civilian lives through difficulties such as finding employment or housing. Despite the repeal, veterans with tarnished records still endure forms of residual prejudice when their discharge paperwork comes into question. The Recover Pride in Service Act intends to designate all discharges based on sexual orientation from dishonorable to honorable within five years of its enactment, as detailed in an article from KOIN.

The bill garnered support from 12 original co-sponsors, including prominent figures from diverse districts across the nation. "Thirteen years have passed since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed, yet some veterans continue suffering the consequences of this discriminatory policy. It's past time for Congress to act and make this right," Chavez-DeRemer emphasized in a KTVZ report.

This legislative effort appears to bridge the gap left in the wake of previous deliberations, where similar topics had been hoisted into the congressional spotlight but fell short of tangible changes. The Democratic-led proposal for a Congressional commission, tasked with investigating the discriminatory policies' lasting impacts, stagnated without moving beyond its introduction, noted in a KGW report. Still, the push for reconciliation continues, as the legacy of these service members and the injustices they faced are brought to the forefront once again.