- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

Rep. Seth Moulton, a 2020 presidential candidate, on Thursday said that if elected, he would work to retroactively upgrade the discharge status of people dismissed from the military for “homosexual activity” or on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Mr. Moulton’s campaign said even though the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed under President Barack Obama, the burden of challenging a discharge status is still on the veteran.

“If you were kicked out of a service because you’re gay or if you engaged in homosexual activity, then we’re going to right that wrong, and we’re going to restore your discharge, upgrading it to honorable discharge if you received an other-than-honorable, dishonorable discharge because of just who you are,” the Massachusetts Democrat said on CNN.

Mr. Moulton, a combat veteran, estimated that since World War II, there have been about 100,000 service members kicked out of the service “just for being gay.”

“And the government has never really righted that wrong,” he said. “We’ve changed the policy, but we haven’t gone back to fix the discharges of those people who were kicked out.”

If a veteran is not honorably discharged, it can prevent them from receiving certain federal health benefits and makes them ineligible for GI Bill benefits, his campaign said.

“It takes a lot of courage to fight. I think it takes even more courage to fight while hiding a part of who you are, and that’s what so many gay and bisexual veterans had to do for generations,” he said.

Mr. Moulton wants to change the policy to put the burden of proof on the government by making review boards examine discharge statuses to figure out who was separated for “sexual orientation or ‘homosexual activity.’”

“Unless the military can produce records to justify the discharge on other grounds, each veteran’s status will be automatically upgraded to honorable — restoring the benefits that they earned and so rightly deserve,” his campaign said.

The review boards would make sure the veterans understand their new benefits, and if a veteran has died, then their records would be updated to reflect an honorable discharge.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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