The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced Tuesday that openly gay men and women are now allowed to sign up [press release] to serve in the in US armed forces, following a recent court order striking down the controversial "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy [10 USC § 654; JURIST news archive]. The DOD issued a directive on Friday to all recruiting stations pursuant to which all openly gay men and women may serve, although their status could change if the district court decision is overruled. "Recruiters are reminded to set the applicants' expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court's decision of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law/policy may occur," DOD spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. Last week, Judge Virginia Phillips of the US District Court of the Central District of California [official website] ordered [order, PDF] the US military to end enforcement [JURIST report] of DADT. The order came little more than a month after the court declared the policy unconstitutional [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. On Thursday, the Obama administration asked [stay application, PDF] Phillips to stay her order [order, PDF] requiring the US military to end enforcement of DADT.
Since its enactment in 1993, approximately 13,000 servicemen and women have been discharged from the armed forces as a result of DADT. Last month, a federal judge for the US District for the Western District of Washington [official website] ordered [JURIST report] that a US Air Force officer be reinstated after being previous discharged under DADT. Also in September, the Senate [official website] rejected a cloture motion [JURIST report] on a defense appropriations bill that would have repealed the policy. In May, the House of Representatives [official website] and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to repeal the policy after President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed to a compromise [JURIST reports] that would prevent the repeal from taking effect until the completion of a review to determine what effects the repeal would have on military effectiveness, soldier retention and family readiness. Also in May, A CNN poll [results, PDF] released found that 78 percent of American adults believe that homosexuals should be able to serve openly in the military. In March, Gates announced changes to the enforcement [JURIST report] of the policy to make it more difficult to expel openly gay service members from the military.