[JURIST] US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday announced changes to the enforcement [press release] of the Don't Ask Don't, Tell [10 USC § 654 text; JURIST news archive] policy to make it more difficult to expel openly gay service members from the military. The changes, set to take effect immediately, include raising the level of who can initiate and conduct investigations, revising what constitutes credible information to initiate an investigation, and revising what constitutes a "reliable person" for initiating an investigation. Gates believes that these changes provide:
a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved. Of course, only Congress can repeal the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" statute. It remains the law, and we are obligated to enforce it. At the same time, these changes will allow us to execute the law in a fairer and more appropriate manner.
The armed services have 30 days to conform their regulations to these new standards, which will be in effect until the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Last week, retired US Marine Corps General John Sheehan [official profile] testified before the US Senate that he believes the Dutch military's inclusion of openly gay soldiers weakened their military [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 [text, PDF] was introduced [JURIST report] in the Senate, which would allow gay soldiers to serve openly. US President Barack Obama has made clear that repealing the controversial policy is a top priority for his administration, pledging to end it in October and reiterating his commitment [JURIST reports] in the State of the Union address. In January, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, was advised to delay [JURIST report] any internal efforts to repeal the policy until 2011. In 2008, more than 100 retired admirals and generals of the US military called for a repeal [JURIST report] of the policy.