Pentagon already taking steps to blunt 'don't ask, don't tell'
A repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' failed in the Senate Thursday, but the Pentagon is already changing policies to make it more difficult for the military to expel gays.
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Last year, roughly 428 homosexual personnel were forced to leave the military. More than three quarters of those were service members who revealed their own sexuality, according to the Pentagon’s top lawyer Jeh Johnson – in essence forcing the Pentagon to proceed with hearings.Skip to next paragraph
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But though discharges under “don’t ask, don’t tell” have largely ground to a halt, critics such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen point out that the law continues to force gay service members “to live a lie.”
Chaos of the courts
What's more, the courts may overturn the ban at any time, as happened in October when a federal judge struck down the law. Gates has called this period a “nightmare” in which there was chaos at the Pentagon about what the ruling meant in practice – even as potential soldiers were walking into recruiting centers, declaring themselves to be gay, and asking to volunteer for service.
It ended when the Justice Department was granted a temporary stay of the law on appeal days later. Gates pointed out on Friday that one of several other lawsuits pending in the courts would overturn the ban only in the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes a handful of Western states, raising the possibility that serving as an openly homosexual American soldier would be legal in some parts of the country, and illegal in others.
This would be an untenable situation, military officials point out, particularly given how often US troops are asked to move around – not to mention, they add, the confusion of figuring out what policy would be for US bases overseas.
As a result, Gates warned as he returned from a trip to Afghanistan this week, the failure of Congress to act – coupled with cases steadily making their way through the courts – means that the Pentagon will continue to face “again, the potential for extraordinary confusion.”