(WASHINGTON) -- The secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force will be the only officials allowed to discharge homosexuals who reveal their sexual orientation, a violation of the 17-year-old Clinton-era law, the Pentagon has announced.
This new development, which strips uniformed officers of the authority to remove homosexuals from the armed forces, is intended to clarify a muddled situation caused by a federal judge who ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could no longer be enforced, and the Justice Department’s success at getting the judge’s stay lifted through a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Regarding the change, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for personnel said the appeals ruling “highlights the legal uncertainty period in which we now find ourselves with respects to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ and the need to further ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of the law.”
While the military insists that this new protocol isn’t intended to slow down discharges, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, argued that there should be far fewer gay and lesbian soldiers kicked out of the armed forces, since the secretaries would be more apt to apply the legal standard to what constitutes violating the policy than uniformed officers.
President Obama, who wants to see “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed by Congress, supported the Department of Justice's action to temporarily reinstate the policy, preferring that lawmakers, and not the courts, finally end it following an extensive Pentagon review due in December.
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