WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement on the 10th anniversary of the end of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“Ten years ago, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ allowed tens of thousands of LBGTQ service members to serve openly for the first time. Our men and women in uniform are the backbone of our national security – all Americans owe them, and their families, a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice. The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ affirmed that we, as a nation, respect and honor the service of these patriotic men and women, no matter who they love.

“The last decade has shown us that the diversity of our military is a point of strength and has proven when service members serve openly, our national security benefits. Despite the progress we have made these last ten years, working to create a more diverse and inclusive military, there is still much to be done. Because of the Trump Administration’s hateful policies, thousands of transgender service members cannot serve openly. These soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines deserve the same honor and respect as their cisgender peers, for their service and sacrifice is no different. Thankfully, President-elect Biden has made it clear he intends to reverse the Trump-era ‘trans ban’ immediately so that these patriots can continue to serve their nation as their authentic selves.

“Today is a day to reflect on our progress and reaffirm our commitment to LGBTQ Americans. Our next task must be enactment of the Equality Act, so that the LGBTQ community is protected from discrimination and prejudice.”