Serving Openly

Gates Revises ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The right of gay soldiers to serve openly is moving forward: Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced changes to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Thursday that will immediately loosen up restrictions on gay soldiers while a panel looks into a full repeal. Saying that he wanted to add “a greater measure of common sense and common decency” to investigations of soldiers’ sexual orientations, Gates said that only a general officer in a gay soldier’s chain of command can discharge him or her for violating the ban on open sexual orientation. Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent writes, “the standards of evidence to be brought in such inquiries are now significantly raised: Nothing a servicemember tells a clergymember, shrink, official conducting a security-clearance investigation or medical professional is admissible.” Also, an officer must be of at least the rank of lieutenant colonel or lieutenant commander in order to open a fact-finding inquiry; and all information from third parties must be given under oath.