Right the Wrong: Biden Issues Historic Pardon to LGBTQ+ Military Personnel

Thousands of former service members are set to regain both their benefits and dignity with Biden’s most recent push for equality. 

Righting a Historic Wrong

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President Joe Biden announces that he is “righting a historic wrong” by pardoning thousands of former U.S. service members that were previously convicted of violating the now-repealed military ban on consensual gay sex. 

Lifting the Stigma

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Biden’s pardon not only helps to lift the stigma on LGBTQ+ service members, but allows them to claim the assistance and benefits that they have been denied after their conviction. 

Who It Applies To 

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The pardon applies to service members in the U.S. forces who were convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s former Article 125. This code specifically criminalized the act of sodomy in 1951. In 2013, the law was rewritten to only prohibit forcible acts instead. 

A Look at the Process

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The service members covered by the pardon will be able to apply to receive “proof” that not only their conviction is erased, but they will also be able to upgrade their discharges and recover past lost pay and benefits. 

Wrongly Convicted

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Biden said, “Today, I am righting an historic wrong by using my clemency authority to pardon many former service members who were convicted simply for being themselves”. 

A Sacred Obligation

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Continuing, “We have a sacred obligation to all of our service members –- including our brave LGBTQI+ service members: to properly prepare and equip them when they are sent into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families when they return home. Today we are making progress in that pursuit.”

The Pride Push

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President Biden announced his newest pardon during Pride Month, and only a few days before his upcoming high-profile LGBTQ+ fundraiser in New York City. The pardon and the fundraiser are both a part of Biden’s push for LGBTQ+ voters ahead of the upcoming presidential election. 

Modern Military

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The U.S.’s biggest organization of LGBTQ+ service members, Modern Military, has said that President Biden’s pardon is a “historic step towards justice and equality” and hopes the military will complete the pardon process quickly and effectively. 

“A Significant Move”

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Modern Military released a statement saying the pardon is “a significant move in recognizing and righting the wrongs inflicted upon LGBTQ+ service members who faced discrimination and unjust convictions under policies such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. 

Continuing, “These brave individuals stood on the front lines of freedom, risking their lives to defend our country, only to be met with injustice at home”. 

March Towards Equality

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The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, has been vocal about his support of the pardon, and agrees this is a “march towards greater equality”. 

No Comment

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The Biden administration has not responded to comments on why he did not issue this particular pardon earlier in his time in office. 

Previous Pardons

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Biden has only used his “pardon power”, or the power to grant clemency to a large group of people convicted of a specific crime, three times. Previously Biden pardoned people who had federal convictions for possessing marijuana in 2022 and 2023. 

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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The Biden Administration believes that several thousand service members will benefit from this pardon, namely those convicted before the controversial 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. 

Serving as Themselves

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While the policy created an opening for LGBTQ+ people to join the military, it still continued the stigma against the community. Thankfully repealed in 2011, queer service members are now allowed to serve openly regardless of sexuality. 

Further Details

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Biden’s pardon does not grant clemency to people convicted of non-consensual acts, or those who were convicted under various other articles of the military justice code. 

Other Avenues

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Service members who were convicted under the military justice code may instead request clemency through the predetermined Department of Justice pardon process. 

Demands for Equality Within the VA

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Earlier in his presidency, Biden had demanded that the Department of Veteran Affairs provide benefits for service members that were discharged due to their gender identity, sexual orientation, or HIV status. 

First Lady Speaks Out

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First lady Jill Biden addressed the public in place of her husband who was preparing for the presidential debate, saying “Just this morning, Joe took another step to right those decades of injustice, pardoning man service members who were court-martialed for simply being themselves”. 

Honoring Our Heroes

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“Honoring those heroes — I’m sure there’s many of you in the crowd — veterans and their families who have given so much for our country”. 

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The post President Biden Issues Historic Pardons for LGBTQ+ Military Personnel first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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