Defense Secretary Robert Gates
announced Thursday an immediate implementation of a more “humane”
implementation of “don't ask, don't tell,” the 1993 law that
forbids gay troops from serving openly, the Washington Post
Under the new guidelines only a general
or admiral could approve the firing of enlisted personnel who violate
the ban, an anonymous compliant will no longer open an investigation
into the sexual orientation of service members and third party
testimony would be required to be made under oath.
Gates first suggest a review of the
policy last June, a day after President Obama reaffirmed his pledge
to repeal the law. He
told reporters that the Pentagon was looking into ways to make its
ban “more humane.”
In February testimony before Michigan
Senator Carl Levin's Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates announced
the Pentagon would soften the rules 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.
Gates has also ordered a study on how
best to implement changes should Congress repeal the law. General
Carter F. Ham, the commander of the US Army, and the Pentagon's chief
legal counsel, Jeh C. Johnson, have been assigned the task and are
expected to deliver their recommendations by Dec. 1.
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
Arizona Senator John McCain, the Senate
Armed Services Committee ranking Republican, and Missouri
Representative Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, lead strong Republican opposition to repeal of the law.