Gates Will Relax ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Enforcement This Week [UPDATED]

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm

When the Pentagon’s leadership announced a process to end the military’s ban on open gay service before Congress, Defense Secretary Robert Gates played the cautionary role. Gates told senators that he would put together a study group, led by Army Lt. Gen. Carter Ham and Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson, to study the least-disruptive ways to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

That study hasn’t concluded. Nor has the Senate taken up Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) bill to repeal the ban. But Gates has some unilateral tools at his disposal, and this week he intends to use them.

“He will announce changes to the way the current law is being enforced that make it more difficult to begin investigations and kick people out,” said a defense source who would not speak for the record ahead of Gates’s announcement. Spokesman Geoff Morrell hinted in his briefing yesterday that Gates would make some changes, but did not specify any.

Gates has speculated for at least a year that he was considering unilateral steps, ahead of a congressional repeal, to ease the burden “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” places on gay servicemembers. Civil-rights groups have urged him to take such steps, particularly on the process for beginning investigations of servicemembers’ sexual orientation that can drive people out of the military. It’s not clear yet when this week Gates will make the announcement [see update], nor is it clear yet just how enforcement will change. But those who worried that there would be no movement on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in 2010 while the study commences, despite President Obama’s call for repeal this year in his State of the Union, can probably take heart.

Update, 7:30 p.m.: OK, I’ve got many more details for what Gates is about to announce. This is going to happen in an announcement Gates will make at the Pentagon tomorrow.

According to a knowledgeable source, Gates will effectively limit enforcement to those cases where a servicemember actively outs himself or herself and “leaves the chain of command no legal choice but to proceed” with an investigation while the law remains on the books. That means the clear majority of cases for discharging someone under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — so called third-party based investigations — will no longer be in effect. While the change won’t apply retroactively, it will apply to “ongoing active cases,” my source said. That means, effectively, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” investigations based on third-party outing will slow to a snail’s pace and the criteria for pursuing them will be “much more stringent.”

The net effect of what Gates will announce is to “slow and/or reduce the number of discharges” under the policy, leaving as many soldiers, sailors airmen and marines in the military during a time of two wars.

Follow Spencer Ackerman on Twitter


Comments

28 Comments

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numilalocal55
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

It's about time. Apologies have been made to women, minorities and, finally, gays and lesbians. Hey, we're all human!


skottieg
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

No thanks to HRC totally ditching LT. Dan Choi the other day.


skottieg
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

No thanks to HRC totally ditching LT. Dan Choi the other day.


skottieg
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

No thanks to HRC totally ditching LT. Dan Choi the other day.


skottieg
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

No thanks to HRC totally ditching LT. Dan Choi the other day.


Deborah, Greenlawn NY
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

Study all you want- even though I think it should be repealed-but at least put
a 'stay of execution' into effect while this rule is obviously in flux and not even
supported by the President. Suspend any and all expulsions pending resolution.


CarltonVanNostrand
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

Cautiously optimistic, but I still question the need to take such baby steps when large majorities support repeal and it has the support of the chairman of the joint chiefs.


Johnny U. S. Marine
Comment posted March 24, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

Will he be reinstating those who've been discharged any time this week? Retro active pay and veteran's benefits? I served for 27 years, my husband 32. We were together for my last 19 years of service. We beat the system, the system sucked before DADT, and after. End it. It's anti-American, a policy only bunch of closeted tea baggers could live with and love.


William
Comment posted March 25, 2010 @ 12:08 am

In other words they are FINALLY going to enforce what DADT was SUPPOSED to be about since its inception: namely that if a service member didn't out himself, the military wasn't supposed to go snooping around. It's about effing time that the DON'T ASK part of DADT was enforced instead of only the DON'T TELL part!


spencer
Comment posted March 25, 2010 @ 5:11 am

I'm a service member and this is friggin insane. There is no place for homosexuals in the military. period. There are certain places that I don't belong in society, and I don't go to them. Homosexuals don't belong in the military. This policy needs to be “Find a civilian job that doesn't require you to sleep/shower with the same sex you happen to be sexually attracted to” .. 50 years from now there will be a movement trying to allow transexuals in the military. you laugh now, just like 50 years ago they laughed at the idea of letting homosexuals in the military. society and the military has become too soft. we're creating more problems than we're solving.


Neroon
Comment posted March 25, 2010 @ 5:31 am

You are a sad person spencer. I had a roommate in college in 1979 who was gay. I am not. We had two simple rules — respect each others space & and warn each other if we were having 'guest' over so we could make ourselves scarce. He never bothered me once.
The reality is that you have already bunked and showered with gay or bi soldiers. What we need to do is grow up and let people live their lives. The sadder reality is that we still have too many homophobes like you running around. The even sadder reality is that it is not gays but male soldiers raping female soldiers that presents the real problem.


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leatherneck1775
Comment posted March 25, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

As an active duty Marine with 26 years in, it appers that you and your partner lied when you enlisted because before DADT there was a question on the enlistment papers asking if you were a homosexual, and the current U.S. Code law bans homosexuals from service (Clinton used executive powers to bring DADT into play, but the law is the law). Also, why is it when you gays do not like the fact that some don't agree with your life style we are homophobic? Maybe it's because in your homofacist ways you don't like to be told NO. Bottem line is openly gay service will destroy the very fabric that holds units together. But the gay agenda is more important than that. We all know that full acceptance in the last institution that America fully trusts (the Armed Forces) is what you want to get the rest of your agenda across, no matter the cost to national security.


Pete
Comment posted March 25, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

According to Wikipedia Countries that allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Phillipines, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay. Make of that what you will.


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Pingback posted March 26, 2010 @ 6:39 am

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