Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other top officials reiterated their support on Thursday for the ongoing transition to welcoming openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members into the armed forces.
Gates was visiting troops at Camp Liberty in Baghdad when he was asked about the progress of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevented LGB service men and women from disclosing their sexual orientation in the military for 17 years until its repeal in December 2010. He upheld his consistent belief that implementation of the law’s repeal will affect the forces minimally if at all. “My guess is you won’t see much change at all because the whole thrust of the training is you’re supposed to go on treating everybody like you’re supposed to be treating everybody now, with dignity, respect and discipline,” he responded, according to the Associated Press.
Many top leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have echoed the same sentiment. General James Amos of the Marine Corps, who expressed doubts last year about repeal, noted with enthusiasm that there was no backlash or anxiety among members of the forces after looking out for potential problems during a recent trip to Afghanistan. “I’m looking specifically for issues that might arise coming out of the training, and the reality is that we’ve not seen them,” he said, reports the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve asked for feedback…the clear majority of it is very positive.” Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, agreed, saying “Our training is going very well … The types of questions we are getting reflect the maturity, professionalism and decency of our people.”
Implementation of the repeal began around March 1 with trainings both at home and abroad, and is generally expected to be completed by August. But some officials who testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday suggested it could be over as early as June. After trainings are completed, President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must certify that reversal will not have a harmful effect to military operations. The official reversal will finally take place 60 days after this certification.
GLAAD will continue to monitor coverage of the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and we encourage media to continue elevating the stories and visibility of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.