Pentagon revises gay ban enforcement policies

The Pentagon has announced new regulations that would make it more difficult to dismiss homosexual service members.

Beginning Thursday, the military will allow only generals and flag officers to dismiss those who flout the "don't ask don't tell" law, the 17-year-old ban on openly gay men and women serving in the armed forces. Previously, colonels could order such dismissals. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who supports a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," said the new rules would enforce the gay ban in a "fairer and more appropriate" manner.

Perhaps most significantly, third parties who provide information about others' noncompliance must testify under oath. The change aims to avoid dismissals of enlisted members on the basis of overheard statements and hearsay. The Pentagon also will revise what constitutes a "reliable person" upon whose word an inquiry could be initiated, and pay more attention to third parties acting to harm a service member.

Confidential information provided to lawyers, clergy and psychotherapists no longer will be used in support of a discharge. Information divulged to public health officials when professional assistance for physical abuse is being sought will not be used against service members.

The Pentagon top brass decided to introduce these new policies after receiving findings from a February review of how repealing the law would affect the military. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright supported the new rules.

"I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice -- above all, by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved," said Gates on Thursday.

He stressed these policies did not amount to a repeal of "don't ask don't tell," which "remains the law and we are obligated to enforce it."

Elaine Donnelly, president of the right-leaning Center for Military Readiness, however, said Gates has sent a "confusing message to the troops" and has "invited noncompliance" with the ban.

Senior Research Fellow Nathaniel Frank from the Palm Center, a think tank that supports a repeal of the ban, said the new regulations have "created situations where known gays are allowed to keep serving," but nothing short of suspending the ban will end fear of reprisals. "It is a regulatory tightening, rather than a repeal of the ban," he said.

The armed services have 30 days to conform to regulations and new policies apply to all open cases.

The Government Accountability Office has reported that during the policy's first 10 years, the cost of dismissing and replacing service members who were discharged because of their sexual orientation was at least $190 million, though an independent University of California Blue Ribbon Commission estimated that figure was much higher.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.