Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has joined 113 other Members of Congress in supporting legislation to repeal the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defence Network (SLDN.)

In addition to Ms McKinney, Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and Democratic lawmakers Julia Carson and Michael Doyle (D-Pa.) recently joined other members of Congress in calling for a repeal of the gay ban.

Mr Boehlert is the fifth Republican co- sponsor and Ms McKinney joins nine other members of the House Armed Services Committee who are also co-sponsors of the bill. In all, 114 Members of Congress now support the legislation, introduced in March 2005 by Congressman Marty Meehan.

“More and more lawmakers of both parties are increasingly disillusioned by the military’s policy of exclusion and discrimination,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ undermines our national security and singles out lesbian and gay Americans for second class citizenship. Service to our country should be based on talent and qualification. SLDN salutes Congresswoman McKinney and her Congressional colleagues for putting our national interests ahead of anti-gay prejudice. Because of their work on this issue, the days of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are numbered.”

A March 22 poll from the Pew Research Centre showed growing public support for repealing the military’s ban. According to Pew, a majority of Americans across political, geographic and religious lines now favour allowing gays to serve openly. A majority of moderate Republicans (62%), liberal Democrats (85%), Catholics (67%), Protestants (53%), Americans living in the Northeast (66%) and those living in the South (58%) all support allowing gays to serve openly.

The results, Pew reports, “represent significantly broader support for 1/8lifting the ban 3/8 than in 1994,” when the military’s current law was first implemented. Overall, the Pew poll showed “two-to-one” support for repealing the ban.

Under the current policy, gay recruits can serve if they keep their sexuality a secret and refrain from homosexual conduct.

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