Defense Secretary Robert Gates will
outline changes in how the military enforces “don't ask, don't
The AP is reporting that two defense
officials have verified that Gates will unveil new guidelines that
would tighten rules on the policy that prescribes discharge for gay
troops who do not remain celibate or closeted.
Under the new guidelines only a general
or admiral could approve the firing of enlisted personnel who violate
the ban and third party testimony would be required to be made under
Gates first floated the idea of
softening the military's implementation of the ban last June, a day
after President Obama reaffirmed his pledge to repeal the law
Speaking aboard a military plane on its
way to Germany, Gates told reporters that the Pentagon was looking
into ways to make its ban “more humane.”
Testifying before Congress in February,
Gates reiterated the need to alter implementation of the policy while
lawmakers consider repeal.
“We believe that we have a degree of
latitude within the existing law to change our internal procedures in
a manner that is more appropriate and fair to our men and women in
uniform,” he said.
Softening the policy is expected to
give Obama political cover should Congress fail to repeal the law.
Both chambers of Congress have
introduced legislation to repeal the law. However, lawmakers have
already suggested they won't press for a vote on a stand-alone bill,
opting instead to tuck the legislation inside a must-pass fiscal year
2011 defense reauthorization bill in the fall.
But even that plan has come into
question. Last week, openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney
Frank said the Obama administration remains “ambiguous” about
whether it backs repeal of the policy this year. Frank said the
uncertainty “has allowed some to interpret Secretary Gates'
argument for a delay in implementation as a delay in adopting the
Frank was referring to Gates' call for
a year-long study on how best to implement changes should Congress
repeal the law.