Officials: Panetta to end don't ask, don't tell
Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has decided to end the ban on gays serving openly in the armed services and certify that repealing the 17-year-old prohibition will not hurt the military's ability to fight, officials said
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has decided to end the ban on gays serving openly in the armed services and certify that repealing the 17-year-old prohibition will not hurt the military's ability to fight, officials said Thursday.
His decision, which was expected, comes two weeks after the chiefs of the military services told Panetta ending the ban would not affect military readiness. Dismantling the ban fulfills a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama, who helped usher the repeal through Congress and signed it into law in December.
But the move drew vehement opposition from some in Congress and initial reluctance from military leaders, who worried it could cause a backlash and erode troop cohesion on the battlefield.
Defense officials said the announcement will be made Friday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
Obama is also expected to certify the change. Repeal of the ban would become effective 60 days after certification, which could open the military to gays by the end of September. The law setting the stage for repeal required the defense secretary to certify to Congress that lifting the ban would not harm military readiness.
The so-called don't ask, don't tell policy was adopted during the Clinton administration and has come under an onslaught of legal challenges, including a federal court ruling in early July that ordered the government to immediately stop enforcing the gay ban.
Days later, however, the Obama administration appealed, saying that abruptly ending the ban would complicate the orderly process for repeal that had been set in motion.
A San Francisco appeals court agreed but added a caveat: The government cannot investigate, penalize or discharge anyone for being openly gay.More....