In a press conference on Thursday March 25th, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, outlined immediate changes to the enforcement and investigations of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violations.
Among the changes are that third party outings will require testimony under oath, and statements made to clergy, medical/mental health clinicians, public-health officials, lawyers, and security-clearance investigators will be inadmissible. The decision to discharge must now be made by a general or flag officer. These changes, with legal caveats, are described as being “fairer and more appropriate,” while the Pentagon proceeds with its research on “how to implement an end to DADT.”
American Veterans for Equal Rights believes that, while any progress and changes in policy enforcement that will inhibit DADT discharges is welcome, the fact remains that patriotic American volunteers are still being discharged and will continue to be discharged due to homosexuality until the DADT law is fully repealed.
Danny Ingram, National President of AVER said, “America’s security and the lives of American soldiers will continue to be jeopardized by the removal of highly qualified military personnel with skills crucial in the war against terror. So long as discharges continue the national defense of the United States suffers from a costly policy that accomplishes nothing.”
What these changes significantly demonstrate is that the Pentagon has now decided that known gay service members may in fact continue to serve, simply depending on how their sexual orientation came to be known. In other words, it seems clear that the ability to serve, based on sexual orientation and previously presumed issues of morale and unit cohesion, is no longer considered relevant by the Pentagon. If those issues were still relevant, it would not matter how the military authorities find out that a service member is gay. Hence, AVER urges an immediate end to the entire DADT policy to allow service members to serve openly and proudly regardless of their sexual orientation, which the Pentagon has now tacitly acknowledged has no relevance.
AVER is the nationwide veterans service organization which serves the needs of LGBT veterans, service members and reservists, since 1990.
AVER Public Affairs
For further details:
C-SPAN press conference video:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced new guidelines on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy
Joint Chiefs of Staff press release:
Pentagon Changes ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Enforcement