Joint Statement from the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO and Pride at Work on President Biden's Pardon of LGBTQI+ Service Members

Joint Statement from the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO  and Pride at Work on President Biden's Pardon of LGBTQI+ Service Members

Washington D.C -Today, we stand united in support and celebration of President Joe Biden's historic decision to pardon many former service members who were unjustly convicted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This momentous step acknowledges the profound courage and sacrifices made by LGBTQI+ service members who, despite facing discrimination and injustice, dedicated their lives to defending the freedoms we cherish.

As the leading veterans' advocacy organization within the labor movement, the Union Veterans Council honors the tens of thousands of Americans who served our country with unwavering bravery. Many of these heroes were subjected to court-martial and discharged dishonorably, not for any failure in duty, but simply for being themselves. This pardon not only rectifies a grievous wrong but also reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that all who serve are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Quote from Will Attig, Executive Director of Union Veterans Council:  “Today, President Biden has honored the bravery and sacrifice of countless LGBTQI+ service members who, despite facing discrimination, stood on the frontlines to defend our nation. By righting this historic wrong, he has reaffirmed the core values that make America exceptional – justice, equality, and unwavering respect for those who serve. We are deeply grateful to President Biden for recognizing the heroism of these individuals and ensuring that their legacy is honored with the dignity they deserve. This pardon is a powerful reminder that in America, every patriot's service is valued and every hero's sacrifice is respected.”

Pride at Work, representing LGBTQI+ members within the labor movement, echoes this sentiment. For too long, LGBTQI+ service members bore the weight of discrimination, their service and sacrifices overlooked. This pardon is a testament to our nation's evolving values and a critical step toward inclusivity and equality within our Armed Forces.

Quote from Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride at Work: “Today’s  action by President Biden to pardon LGBTQI+  service members who were wrongfully convicted for their sexual orientation while serving our country is a much-awaited step toward justice. These servicemembers gave so much to serve their country. President Biden’s action will allow many of these servicemembers to access previously denied benefits and see their service records restored to honor. We thank President Biden for his leadership in showing that all service members - including LGBTQI+ service members - deserve dignity, respect, and recognition for their service.”

Patriotism knows no bounds of identity. The valor displayed by LGBTQI+ service members on the frontlines of freedom underscores their unwavering dedication to our nation. Despite facing systemic barriers and personal hardships, these individuals stood resolute in their commitment to protect and serve. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice, their heroism now rightfully recognized and honored.

President Biden's action today is about more than just righting past wrongs. It is a declaration that every member of our military, regardless of who they are or who they love, deserves to be respected and valued. This commitment to dignity and decency strengthens our Armed Forces, ensuring that every service member can focus on their mission without fear of discrimination or prejudice.

Quote from Keturah Johnson - International Vice President AFA-CWA First Queer Woman of Color and Combat Veteran Elected to That Role: "Our veterans deserve the best — and never should have been punished for who they love. President Biden is righting sins of our collective past by pardoning veterans who were dishonorably discharged under the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. We're proud of all our Flight Attendant veterans who openly serve now as aviation's first responders."

As we move forward, it is our collective responsibility to continue advocating for a military culture that reflects the values of diversity, inclusion, and respect. Our service members deserve no less. This pardon is a significant milestone in our ongoing pursuit of justice and equality, and we remain steadfast in our dedication to supporting all who have served and continue to serve our great nation.

The Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO and Pride at Work are the labor movement's leading advocacy groups for veterans and LGBTQI+ members, dedicated to ensuring dignity, respect, and equality for all Americans.