Thursday, March 25, 2010
Breaking news! Defense Secretary Robert Gates has majorly revised how the Pentagon will implement the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, making it much more difficult to remove a person from the military who does not out themself as gay. According to Gates, the changes will add "a greater measure of common sense and common decency" for those negatively impacted by the law. The Washington Independent reported:
Starting today, only a general officer in an accused service member’s chain of command can discharge someone for a violation of the ban, and only an officer with the rank of commander or lieutenant colonel or higher can conduct a fact-finding inquiry to recommend a discharge. The standards of evidence provided to those inquiries will become far less burdensome on the accused, with what Gates called “special scrutiny on third parties who may be motivated to harm the service member.” Entire categories of evidence will no longer be admissible, including testimony from clergy members, physicians, abuse counselors, security-clearance review personnel and mental-health personnel — a move that also significantly improves troops’ quality of life.
While this harmful law still unfortunately remains in place, this is an important step towards repealing it. Gates has stated that it isn't a matter of whether it should be repealed, but how. There is concern about abruptly ending the ban because it could put queer service members in danger, so perhaps eliminating the policy in steps is the best way to get homophobic service members used to serving next to openly queer soldiers/sailors/pilots/marines. But I have no doubt that I will live to see the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."