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President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued a proclamation that pardons veterans convicted of a now-repealed law that banned consensual gay sex in the armed forces, a move that could impact thousands of former service members. 

Biden’s proclamation, issued during Pride Month, applies to convictions under former Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a law that took effect in 1951 and that criminalized sodomy. Consensual sodomy was repealed as a military offense in 2013, but as the Justice Department’s pardon office noted, “the consequences of those convictions remain.”

Now, impacted veterans can apply for a certificate of pardon and petition for a change in military discharge, which could lead to eligibility for benefits. 

With this action, Biden said he is “righting an historic wrong.”

“As Commander in Chief, I am committed to maintaining the finest fighting force in the world. That means making sure that every member of our military feels safe and respected – so they can focus on their mission,” Biden said in a statement.

“This is about dignity, decency, and ensuring the culture of our Armed Forces reflect the values that make us an exceptional nation. 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,” Biden added.

The Modern Military Association of America, the nation’s largest organization of LGBTQ+, in a statement, said the proclamation “marks a historic step towards justice and equality.”

“President Biden’s proclamation 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” (DADT). 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,” the statement read. 

Biden’s pardon does not cover service members convicted of nonconsensual acts.