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U.S. Election: Biden Pardons Military Personnel Convicted Under Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

3 weeks ago
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Pardoning Military Personnel: Biden’s Historic Move

U.S. President, Joe Biden, on Wednesday announced a significant step in addressing past injustices by pardoning military personnel convicted under a law banning homosexuality in the armed forces for decades.

This decision impacts thousands who suffered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Despite their courage and great sacrifice, thousands of LGBTQI+ service members were forced out of the military because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some of these patriotic Americans were subject to court-martial, and have carried the burden of this great injustice for decades,” Biden stated.

He emphasized, “With this gesture, I am ensuring the culture of our Armed Forces reflects the values that make us an exceptional nation.”

The Law in Focus: Article 125

The decision specifically concerns Article 125 of the Code of Military Justice, established in 1951 and rendered obsolete by Congress in 2013.

This law made sodomy between consenting adults a crime punishable by court-martial. A senior US official noted that thousands of people could be eligible for pardons under this announcement.

Implications for Pardoned Individuals

Beyond the symbolic gesture, those granted clemency will have their military documents amended, potentially making them eligible for benefits previously denied. This correction addresses a longstanding injustice faced by LGBTQI+ service members.

READ ALSO: Joe Biden To Grant Legal Status To 500,000 Undocumented Spouses Of US Citizens

Historical Context: Military Policies On Homosexuality

The United States barred homosexual personnel from serving in the military until 1994, when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was implemented.

This policy prevented service members from being asked about their sexual orientation but required gay, lesbian, and bisexual personnel to remain closeted to avoid dismissal. It wasn’t until 2011 that the policy was repealed, allowing LGBTQI+ individuals to serve openly.

Review Of Discharges Announced By Defense Department

In September 2023, the Defense Department announced a review to identify veterans who received other than honorable discharges due to their sexual orientation. This review aims to correct records if merited, thereby restoring access to benefits and improving employment prospects for affected veterans.

Voices Of Support And Reflection

LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and affected veterans have welcomed Biden’s decision. “This is a long-overdue recognition of the sacrifices made by LGBTQI+ service members,” said a representative from an advocacy group. “We are grateful for this step towards justice.”

A pardoned veteran shared, “For years, I felt the weight of an unjust system on my shoulders. Today, I feel a sense of relief and validation for my service and identity.”

Looking Forward: A Commitment To Inclusivity

Biden’s pardon underscores a broader commitment to inclusivity and fairness within the US military. It serves as a reminder of the progress made and the work still needed to ensure equality for all service members.

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Emmanuel Ochayi is a journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, School of first choice and the nations pride. Emmanuel is keen on exploring writing angles in different areas, including Business, climate change, politics, Education, and others.

Emmanuel Ochayi is a journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, School of first choice and the nations pride. Emmanuel is keen on exploring writing angles in different areas, including Business, climate change, politics, Education, and others.

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