President Obama campaigned
on a pledge to repeal don't
ask, don't tell, the restrictive measure that has expelled 13,389 gay
military service members since it was implemented in 1994. And in January it
looked like, with the support of the military
he was going to do it
. After a two-month
lull, the Pentagon is finally moving forward. Here's what they're doing
(so far), why it's surprising, and what it means for gays in the
- What's Changing The New York Times' Thom Shanker reports that, in this
"interim plan" while the Pentagon works on a full repeal, it will be
more difficult for the military to expel gay servicemembers. "The new
steps would include a requirement that only a general or admiral could
initiate action in cases where service members were suspected of
violating the prohibition against openly gay service in the armed
forces. The guidelines would also raise the standard required for
- Why It's Surprising The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains why
"this was not expected. Stung so many times by the promise of action of
the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, gay rights advocates were worried
that the Defense Department's proceduralism would be an excuse to delay
any action at all, even though the Secretary of Defense has fairly broad
discretion over how to enforce the ban on gays in the military. The
Senate bill is languishing."
- Gates Takes Lead, Ahead of
Congress The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman notes
that, although the repeal authroity lies with Congress, Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates is making "unilateral" changes. "That
[Congressional] study hasn't concluded. Nor has the Senate taken up Joe
Lieberman's (I-Conn.) bill to repeal the ban. But Gates has some
unilateral tools at his disposal, and this week he intends to use them."
Not Revolutionary ABC News' Devin Dwyer reality-checks.
"The directive will focus largely on the provision that allows third
parties to report gay service members for disciplinary action. While
only a small number have been discharged because of these circumstances,
Gates has said he does not want the practice to continue."
To Change Military Culture Even if it will not dramatically change
the law itself, notes
Ambinder. "Internally, the move sends a message to the general
officer corps, within which there are notable doubters of the move to
repeal it: don't bother trying to stop this thing once it starts. [...] A
small step, but it will help change the culture, which is one reason
why Gates is proceeding."
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