Most of us knew that Army Secretary John McHugh’s rather liberal interpretation of the new Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell regulations was too good to be true, and now McHugh has issued a statement stressing that soldiers could still be discharged under the policy:
“First, while President Obama has asked Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, it is and remains the law of the land. As I have testified before Congress and Secretary Gates has made clear, the Department of the Defense will continue to apply the law, as we are obligated to do. “Second, I was incorrect when I stated that Secretary Gates had placed a moratorium on discharges of homosexual service-members. There is no moratorium of the law and neither Secretary Gates nor I would support one. Further, the recent changes to implementing regulations authorized by Secretary Gates, which I support, apply the law in a fairer and more appropriate manner; they do not in any way create a moratorium of the law. “Third, with regard to the three soldiers who shared their views and thoughts with me on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, I might better have counseled them that statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated as confidential and could result in their separation under the law. Because of the informal and random manner in which these engagements occurred, I am unable to identify these soldiers and I am not in a position to formally pursue the matter. […]
I strongly support the deliberative process that Secretary Gates has established to review this important issue. Until Congress repeals “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, it remains the law of the land and the Department of the Army and I will fulfill our obligation to uphold it.
Point three really makes a mockery of the entire policy and the long, drawn-out year-long repeal review process. McHugh’s refusal to turn in those servicemembers who came out to him and his initial moratorium comments tell me that all this arguing about how to repeal the policy in the most delicate way possible is really a farce. Gays and lesbians are already serving in the services (some are even fairly open about it) and senior leadership doesn’t care because it doesn’t matter.
I interpreted Gate’s new regulations as a moratorium on third-party discharges, and initially believed that McHugh had come to the same conclusion. But if you read the new guidelines more carefully, they add more scrutiny to third party allegations without excluding them entirely.