In a change that one expert said could “dramatically reduce” discharges, the defense department issued new guidelines Thursday for enforcement of “don’t ask don’t tell.”
The new guidelines came in the wake of Wednesday’s decision by a federal appeals court to grant a temporary stay of a district judge’s order halting enforcement of the policy.
Until further notice, pursuant to a memorandum from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a follow-up memorandum from Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley, no service member can be discharged under DADT without the ”personal approval of the secretary of the military department concerned, and only in coordination with me and the General Counsel of the Department of Defense.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said while the change could “dramatically reduce DADT discharges,” it doesn’t mean that gays in the military should come out.
“The Pentagon appears to be saying to the court and to service members that it will provide all service members the protections already afforded officers, but with no delegation of that authority: All proposed DADT discharges, regardless of grade and rank, will be reviewed at the highest civilian levels. This can be a major constructive development for gay and lesbian service members,” Sarvis said.
“This important change could dramatically reduce DADT discharges, if DoD applies the Witt legal standard throughout the military, which requires the Pentagon to find that gay service members would harm military readiness, unit cohesion and good order, before they are discharged. But this Pentagon guidance memo does not end DADT. It is still in place, and service members should not come out.
“The fact that DADT remains law further underscores the urgent need for the full Senate to vote for repeal when it returns to lame-duck session next month.”