Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
announced Thursday that the restart of the policy that bans open gay
service will be in the hands of six officials.
The ban, known as “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell,” was revived Wednesday at least temporarily by the Obama
administration when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco granted defendants the stay they sought while the
government prepares an appeal to U.S.
District Judge Virginia Phillips' September ruling striking down
the law as unconstitutional and subsequent
injunction against its enforcement.
Only the secretaries of the armed
forces can authorize a separation under the law, and the Defense
Department's top attorney and the undersecretary for Defense for
Personnel and Readiness must also be consulted, leaving the policy in
the hands of six civilians appointed by the president.
President Barack Obama has said he
agrees that the law should be repealed but is pursuing an appeal
because he's looking for a “durable” solution from Congress.
Repeal advocates remain hopeful that the Senate will act against the
law during the lame-duck session after the November midterm
The rule changes are meant to “ensure
uniformity and care in the enforcement of 'don't ask, don't tell' law
and policy during this period of legal uncertainty,” a senior
defense official is quoted by the Army Times.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), said the change could
strike a severe blow to the policy.
“This important change could
dramatically reduce DADT discharges, if DoD applies the Witt legal
standard throughout the military, which requires the Pentagon to find
that gay service members would harm military readiness, unit cohesion
and good order, before they are discharged,” Sarvis said in a
Sarvis also warned gay service members
from coming out during this period of uncertainty.
“But this Pentagon guidance memo does
not end DADT. It is still in place, and service members should not
On Tuesday, the Pentagon
announced it would accept openly gay recruits and several
high-profile service members previously discharged under the policy –
Army Lt. Dan Choi – immediately reenlisted.