Secretary of the Army John McHugh has
taken back his assertion that a de facto moratorium on discharging
gay troops from the military was in effect.
McHugh said Thursday he had been
The military's gay ban on open service
“remains the law of the land,” McHugh said in a statement.
The 1993 law, known as “don't ask,
don't tell,” prescribes discharge for gay men and lesbians who do
not remain celibate or closeted.
Speaking to reporters the day before,
McHugh suggested there was a de facto moratorium on firing gay troops
from the military when he said he would not dismiss soldiers who had
told him they were gay.
“I was incorrect when I stated that
[Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates had placed a moratorium on
discharges of homosexual service-members,” he said. “There is no
moratorium of the law and neither Secretary Gates nor I would support
He added that last week's softening of
the guidelines under the existing law does not “in any way create a
moratorium of the law.”
McHugh, a former Republican lawmaker
who was appointed by President Obama, said Wednesday that moving
against gay soldiers who had revealed their sexuality to him in the
course of discussing upcoming policy changes would be “counter
But he reversed course the next day.
“I might better have counseled them
that statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated
as confidential and could result in their separation under the law,”
McHugh, however, added that he was
“unable to identify these soldiers and I am not I a position to
formally pursue the matter.”
Gates has ordered a year-long review on
how best to implement changes should Congress repeal the law. McHugh
said a third party would likely be used to solicit the views of gay
“The working group is likely to
utilize a third party from outside of the department to solicit these
views so soldiers can speak candidly and without fear of separation,”
“I urge every soldier to share his or
her views and suggestions on this important issue through this
channel,” he added.