The changes announced today by Secretary Gates constitute a solid first step to help reign in many of the abuses of the policy that have become common practice over the past seventeen years
Washington, DC (Vocus) March 26, 2010
Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, hailed today's announcement by the Secretary of Defense that regulations regarding the implementation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would be revised to reflect a fairer application of the law.
"The changes announced today by Secretary Gates constitute a solid first step to help reign in many of the abuses of the policy that have become common practice over the past seventeen years," said Alexander Nicholson, a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and the current Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "These changes are by no means a substitute for full legislative repeal of the law this year, but they are certainly a good start."
The announced revisions include raising the level of the officer who is authorized to initiate discharge proceedings for enlisted personnel to at least a one-star general or admiral and barring the use of third-party, confidential, or non-credible information about a servicemember's sexual orientation as a basis for discharge.
In a move that has also concerned servicemember advocates, the Secretary of Defense went on to voice his opinion that Congress should not exercise its prerogative to repeal the law on which "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is based until after the Pentagon Working Group completes its study of repeal-related issues. On this, Nicholson added, "The study group that Secretary Gates has commissioned is tasked with providing recommendations to the Secretary on how to effectively implement a new policy of allowing open service by gays and lesbians, and it is intended to be completely internal to the Department of Defense. The results of this study are not necessary for Congress to go ahead and lock in repeal of the law this year, especially if repeal is scheduled to take effect after the study group finishes its work. Lawmakers should trust the military to successfully implement any policy change with which it is tasked."
In February, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that they now support the President's goal of repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. They joined a growing list of others who now support allowing open gays and lesbians to serve in the military, including former Secretary of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney, former Joint Chiefs Chairmen General John Shalikashvili and General Colin Powell, and former Marine Corps Commandant General Jim Jones, among many others.
For more information about Servicemembers United, please visit http://www.servicemembersunited.org. For the latest information polling, statistics, studies, and other archival and reference information related to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' issue, please visit http://www.dadtarchive.org.
Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.
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