Thursday, March 25, 2010
Defense Secretary Robert Gates just approved new rules that will make it harder to discharge gays from the military.
The new guidelines go into effect immediately and will apply to cases already open. They are considered a stopgap measure until Congress decides whether to go along with President Barak Obama's call for a repeal of the ''don't ask, don't tell'' law.
''I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice, above all by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency for handling what are complex and difficult issues for all involved,'' Gates told a Pentagon news conference.
The changes raise the level of officer authorized to initiate a fact-finding inquiry into a case, the level of officer who can conduct an inquiry and of the one that can authorize a dismissal.
To discourage the use of overheard statements or hearsay, from now on any evidence given in third-party outings must be given under oath, Gates said. Cases of third-party outings also have included instances in which male troops have turned in women who rejected their romantic advances or jilted partners in relationship have turned in a former lover.
Some kinds of confidential information also will no longer be allowed, including statements gays make to their lawyers, clergy, psychotherapists or medical professionals in the pursuit of health care.
The individual service branches will have 30 days to change their regulations to conform to the new rules.