President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen certified to Congress late Friday that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) will not negatively impact military readiness or cohesion, a major step toward ending the policy for good. Gays and lesbians are welcoming the certification.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” enacted in 1993, banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. Those already enlisted faced discharge or expulsion if they were open about their sexual orientation. More than 14,500 service members have been discharged since it was signed into law.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) insisted that the Pentagon would go further by “suspending all investigations of service members that are currently ongoing and confirm that the Department of Defense and Department of Justice are not preparing to appeal the court’s ruling.”
“Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead,” SLDN said.
Issued today was a memorandum to military branches, granted by the 9th Circuit U.S Court of Appeals, which prevents the government from implementing the DADT policy in the armed forces. The Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs Chairman both confirmed that DADT will not have an impact on military readiness due to the training sessions during the past few months to determine how soldiers would react to the transition.
On July 8th 2011, a federal appeals court blocked the Pentagon from investigating, penalizing or discharging anyone under the policy, which took effect immediately. Since then the Pentagon has been working on writing new rules and regulations for the policy.
Dismantling DADT fulfills President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to repeal the policy, which he signed into law on December 22, 2010.
Full repeal will be effective 60 days after certification, but SLDN warned service members not to act in haste. “Despite the President signing the bill authorizing repeal of DADT, it is unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification by President Obama, Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen have been signed,” the group said.