Secretary of Defense, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Announce Changes to Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Metro Weekly reported today that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen announced this morning that the U.S. military will be changing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy to make the law more “fair.”

“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 for handling what are complex and difficult issues for all involved," Gates said in a Pentagon news conference.

“The most significant change to the policy,” write Metro Weekly reporter Chris Geidner, “will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to initiate an inquiry or separation proceeding regarding the DADT policy to a general or flag officer in the servicemember's chain of command.”

According to The Associated Press the new guidelines take effect immediately.

Other changes to the policy include:

Third-party testimony about a service member’s sexual orientation must now be given under oath.

Restrictions on confidentiality will now be stricter. For instance, statements between a person and his/her lawyer, clergy, psychotherapist or medical professional may be inadmissible evidence.

In a statement released today by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis expressed support for today’s announcements:

“The regulatory changes announced today are another major step forward in making the 1993 ban less draconian. These changes underscore what Sec. Gates said on February 2 and again today:  the repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is inevitable-it's a matter of how to repeal the law, not whether to do so.”

According to SLDN, more than 13,500 service members have been fired under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since 1994.

GLAAD will continue to follow the media’s coverage of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org

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