California Gov. Newsom signs bill to help LGBTQ military veterans reclaim benefits

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a bill that will help LGBTQ veterans discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" policies reestablish their eligibility for

Veterans Affairs benefits. The bill, AB 325 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, assists LGBTQ veterans in updating their records and accessing education,

health, burial, and other benefits available to honorably discharged service members.  "For decades, our bravest heroes, men and women who wore the uniforms of the armed

services had to hide who they really were, and many were other than honorably discharged if their sexuality was discovered," Newsom said in a statement after announcing he had

signed the bill. Gays and lesbians were banned in the military until the 1993 approval of "don't ask, don't tell," which allowed them to serve only if they did not openly

acknowledge their sexual orientation. Rather than helping, advocates say, the policy created more problems. In its entire history, the military dismissed more than 100,000 service

members based on their sexual or gender identities — 14,000 of them during "don't ask, don't tell." CALIFORNIA'S NEWSOM SIGNS BILL THAT CRACKS DOWN ON HATE

CRIME Repeal of the law was approved by Congress and then-President Barack Obama in late 2010. The law took effect nine months later, allowing lesbian, gay and bisexual

people to serve openly. The Department of Defense subsequently created a path for veterans who had been discharged under the policy to receive the full range of veterans'