In an effort to comply with Judge Virginia Phillips’ injunction against enforcing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Department of Defense is instructing recruiters to accept gay and lesbian applicants. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith tells the AP that “top-level guidance has been issued to recruiting commands informing them that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule has been suspended for now,” but recruiters “also have been told to inform potential recruits that the moratorium could be reversed at any point.”
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder has more:
One is that the guidance given to recruiters is based on the status of legal process, and that gay recruits are being told that if the ban on gays in the military is upheld, their status might be revoked in the future. Two: in the Navy, at least, recruits are being processed on “delayed entry” status, which places them on inactive reserve status for up to a year.
Three, each service branch is applying the guidance, which was offered by the Pentagon’s general counsel, differently.
Four, this does not mean that it is safe for gay soldiers to come out. Indeed, if they do, and a stay is enforced or the case is thrown out, they can be held responsible for their declarations during this intermediary period. Still — today is a point of demarcation.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is warning gay members against coming out, however, since “a higher court is likely to issue a hold on the injunction by Judge Phillips very soon.” The Department of Defense “is awaiting a ruling from Phillips on the government’s request to stay the injunction pending the government’s appeal of the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The hearing on the stay request, held Monday afternoon, ended with Phillips giving a tentative ruling against granting the stay.”
Responding to today’s announcement, Lt. Dan Choi — who was discharged under the policy in 2010 — tweeted that he will try to enlist at the Times Square recruiting station in New York City, telling the Advocate Magazine, “[a]s we say in the military, this is a target of opportunity. It’s an opportunity for me to serve in whatever capacity that I can. And I’m going to go try to do that.”