A gay service member marrying will no
longer be grounds for discharge after “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is
repealed, but federal law will keep the military from recognizing the
marriage, officials said on Friday.
Congress repealed the law that bans gay
and bisexual troops from serving openly during last month's lame-duck
session of Congress, but the policy won't be officially lifted until
President Obama and top Pentagon officials certify that the military
is ready for the change.
Training that stresses professionalism
and respect will begin as early as next month, Clifford Stanley,
under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and General
James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told
reporters at a news conference.
The men also confirmed that little will
change in terms of policy or procedure to accommodate open gay
service. But they remained vague on a timeline for certification.
Ending the ban by the end of the year
was only a “goal,” they said.
“There's nothing that tells us that
it's not reachable, but we have to allow for the fact that we may
discover something between now and then,” Cartwright said.
Questions on how much training is
needed to reach certification also went unanswered.
“All right,” Cartwright said. “I
mean, I – as I said, I believe it's a subjective judgment based on
what we have seen as we go through the training.”
There will be no separate housing or
bathing facilities built for openly gay troops, and service members
previously separated under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” will be
allowed to reapply for service.
Officials added that after repeal of
the policy the military will remain barred from recognizing the legal
marriages of gay service members.
“Right now, no changes are expected
in policy with respect to housing, those – that kind of benefit.
In fact, a lot of benefit changes aren't changing. We're also
required by law to – you know, to abide by the – basically, the
scripture of DOMA, you know, Defense of Marriage Act. So regardless
as to what's happening in different states, we haven't changed that,”
Under the Obama administration, the
federal government has implemented changes elsewhere, including the
State Department, where spouses of gay diplomats are recognized.
Officials also stressed that “Don't
Ask, Don't Tell” remains in effect until 60 days after
“We are obligated to follow that law,
and to say anything other than that at this time would be
inappropriate,” Stanley said.