Wednesday, October 20, 2010

U.S. Military Moves to Accept Gay Recruits


The United States military, for the first time, is allowing its recruiters to accept openly gay and lesbian applicants.

The historic move follows a series of decisions by a federal judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, who ruled last month that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law violates the equal protection and First Amendment rights of service members. On Oct. 12, she ordered the military to stop enforcing the law.

President Obama has said that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “will end on my watch.” But the Department of Justice, following its tradition of defending laws passed by Congress, has fought efforts by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization, to overturn the policy.

Judge Phillips on Tuesday denied requests by the government to maintain the status quo during the appeals process.

The Pentagon has stated its intent to file an appeal in case of such a ruling. But meanwhile, it has started complying with Judge Phillips’s instructions while the dispute over her orders plays out.

New instructions were e-mailed to recruiters on Friday for handling situations in which applicants volunteer their sexual orientation. Recruiters do not ask about sexual orientation and have not since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law went into effect in the 1990s.

Recruiters were also told that they must inform the applicants that the moratorium on “don’t ask, don’t tell” could be reversed.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/us/politics/20military.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=globaleua29

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