With the defense authorization measure now moving in the Senate, two organizations dedicated to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell are urging to Department of Defense to adopt new regulations to ensure that gays and lesbians can serve openly and equally. Under the amendment in the defense bill, the policy cannot be repealed until the Pentagon completes its review of the policy and President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen certify that a repeal would not undermine military readiness or cohesion. The policy would then be repealed after a 60-day period.
But a Congressional vote does not end the fight to repeal the policy. Even if the Senate passes the authorization, and it survives the conference committee, and the President’s veto threat, the Pentagon would have to do more to guarantee full equality. Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has released the following recommendations:
– Adopt a policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation.
– Allow service members to identify their same-sex domestic partners and the children of these relationships in their personnel records.
– Allow service members discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” to rejoin the armed forces if they are otherwise qualified for re-accession.
– Adopt streamlined procedures for service members discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and prior homosexual conduct policies to have their discharge records amended.
Similarly, a new report from the Palm Center also recommends that the military must implement an affirmative non-discrimination policy and adopt one standard of conduct and facilities. “The standard set by President Obama and Admiral Mullen is one of integrity and equality and suggests an appropriate standard that is nothing short of equal and open service for all gay and lesbian troops,” it concludes.
Back in March, the Center for American Progress reviewed the experiences of Great Britain, Canada and Israel and noted eight areas where the military can change rules and regulations in order to effectively implement the new policy and offered similar recommendations.