Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

CA congressional candidate backs undoing dishonorable discharges of gay veterans under DADT

A southern California congressional candidate has pledged to push for undoing the dishonorable discharges of gay veterans under the military’s former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

In a statement released today (Wednesday, January 27) former Democratic state Senator Lou Correa said that if he is elected to Congress in November then one of his top priorities would be to introduce a policy that reverses DADT discharges.

Under the homophobic policy, which was repealed in 2011, the armed forces routinely dishonorably discharged service men and women who disclosed they were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. More than 14,300 service members were kicked out of the military due to DADT.

Congressional candidate Lou Correa

Congressional candidate Lou Correa

In his statement, Correa said that more than 100,000 service members dating back to World War II had been dishonorably discharged due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Noting that those discharged under DADT can currently get their records changed on a case-by-case basis, Correa stated that “is not enough” and “mass action” is needed to remedy the situation.

“This is long overdue. We as a nation have wronged over 100,000 individuals in the US military who were dishonorably discharged because of their sexual orientation and it is time we make it right,” stated Correa, a former chair of the state Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs. “While the damage done to these brave men and women cannot be undone, their records can still be reversed to reflect the honorable discharge they earned. By doing so we are finally giving these wronged veterans the legal, health, and employment benefits they deserve.”

Correa, of Santa Ana, is one of several candidates seeking the 46th Congressional District seat in Orange County. The current officeholder, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), is running for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat this year, as is state Attorney General Kamala Harris, San Francisco’s former district attorney.

Two other Democrats are running for the congressional seat against Correa: gay Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, who came out publicly last summer, and former state Senator Joe Dunn. Republican Louie Contreras  is also in the race.

(Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman, who also came out as gay last year, withdrew from the race in December amid criticism of his vote to delay the creation of a Latino-majority council district until 2018.)

During his time in the state Legislature, Correa consistently failed to receive a perfect score from Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group. It has a standing policy that it will not endorse lawmakers unless they receive a 100 percent on its annual scorecards.

In 2010, for example, Correa had the lowest score among Democrats, at 64 percent, due to his opposing bills that would have made it easier for LGBT youth to obtain mental health services; improved safety for LGBT prisoners; disallowed employers to prevent victims of hate crimes from going to court; and extended unemployment benefits to same-sex couples.

In 2014, his last year in the Senate, Correa received a score of 83 percent from EQCA after he voted against providing gender neutral options for parents on birth certificates.

He did earn a 100 percent score in 2012 and in 2008. But in 2007 he earned a score of 80 percent partly for failing to vote on a bill that would have required the state to offer gender-neutral marriage licenses to couples. EQCA counted his not voting on the bill as a no vote.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted at the time, Correa, the first Latino senator from Orange County, had “voted against an equal benefits bill and was the only Democrat in the Assembly not to vote for a 2004 resolution against a federal marriage amendment. He did give the domestic partner bill AB205 the 41st vote it needed for passage and received strong LGBT support in his razor-thin win in his Senate race this year.”

EQCA has yet to endorse in any of this year’s congressional races. Correa has been endorsed by gay state Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) in his bid for the congressional seat.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 27, 2016 @ 3:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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