Echoing sentiments expressed by gay
activists, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned on Thursday that
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” remains in effect.
President Barack Obama signed on
Wednesday a bill into law that repeals the military's ban on open gay
But the new law's language requires
that the president and top Pentagon officials – Gates and Admiral
Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – certify
that the military is prepared for repeal. That condition was added
in an effort to shore up Republican support for the bill.
“In order to prevent any confusion, I
want to be perfectly clear: at this time, there are no new changes to
any existing Department of Service policies,” Gates wrote in a memo
“Service members who alter their
personal conduct during this period may face adverse consequences,”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called on Gates to
suspend all investigations during the interim period.
“Now, it's on to finishing the job at
the Pentagon. Troops remain at risk under the law. We respectfully
renew our call for Secretary Gates to use his authority to suspend
all 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' investigations and discharges during this
limbo period. Until there is certification and until the 60-day
implementation period must be wrapped up no later than the first
quarter of 2011,” Sarvis said in a statement.
Gates also said that troops who opposed
the new policy will not be allowed to leave the military before their
commitment is up.