Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Obama administration tries to soften DADT


Lieutenant Dan Choi marches in Sunday's LGBT Pride Parade. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
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Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon is looking at "a more humane way to apply" the anti-gay military policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" until it can be repealed. The remarks came on June 30 while he was traveling in Europe, according to the Associated Press.

Gates suggested that might include not investigating accusations from a jilted lover or someone else who acts out of vindictive motives. Gates said military lawyers are looking into the situation.

The comments came one day after President Barack Obama told an LGBT gathering at the White House that he believes DADT "doesn't contribute to our national security. In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security."

The president said he had asked the Pentagon "to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal."

This movement by the administration appears to be influenced by recent reports by both the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Center for American Progress that laid out steps that could be taken prior to congressional action on repeal.

Meanwhile, an administrative board recommended that Lieutenant Dan Choi be discharged from the New York Army National Guard for publicly stating that he is gay. Choi is a graduate of West Point, an Arabic linguist, and an Iraqi veteran who is willing to return to that country.

Choi, who was a celebrity grand marshal in San Francisco's LGBT Pride Parade last Sunday, said he is being fired "for nothing more than telling the truth about who I am."

The recommendation must now wend its way through the military chain of command, which must decide whether or not to accept it.

In another matter, on July 1 Log Cabin Republicans disclosed that last month a federal judge in Los Angeles had ended the government's efforts to dismiss their legal challenge to the constitutionality of DADT. The case was filed four and a half years ago and may now proceed to trial.

"We are confident that the ruling from Judge Virginia A. Phillips gives us ample space to make our arguments in ways that other legal challenges against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' have not been able to do," said Log Cabin spokesman Charles T. Moran.

When it was filed, that lawsuit included plaintiffs who were discharged as well as at least one active duty service member filing under a pseudonym.

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