At President Obama's request to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, congress is continually re-examining military regulations that keep openly gay citizens from serving in the military.
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Don't Ask Don't Tell Targets Military Equality

By: Carly Miller
Posted:

At President Obama's request to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, congress is continually re-examining military regulations that keep openly gay citizens from serving in the military. Homosexuality in the military is an issue that ignites political controversy. While reversing long-standing military policies is never easy, inconsistencies within Don't Ask Don't Tell are opening the doors for change.

Allowing gays to serve openly in the military also opens access to the military benefits long enjoyed by all military servicemembers. These include BAH to support housing expenses based on location; GI Bill higher education support, for military members as well as military spouses and children; access to military home ownership with VA home loans, veterans health care support and the unmatched options of the TRICARE suite of military medical plans.

These benefits and more are just some of the many expressions of appreciation for the sacrifice of our military servicemembers; and those sacrifices are made equally, regardless of sexual orientation.

REVISING "DON'T ASK DON'T TELL"

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates initially issued standardized rules for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the military law that bans openly gay citizens from military service. These rules detailed procedures for investigation and discharge of homosexual servicemembers.

Gate's rules were the result of a study which questioned whether openly gay citizens could serve without dividing the military along political and religious lines, and potentially affect military efficiency. Revised rules for procedures for the discharge of homosexuals in the military, effective April 2010, reflected the need for consistent, clear standards that both respected individual military servicemembers' rights, and created clear guidelines for the military as a whole.

AUTHORITY FROM OFFICERS

One of the most significant 2010 changes in Don't Ask Don't Tell was that such discharge proceedings now require the involvement and approval of the General Officer O-7, or Flag Officer for the Navy.

Previously, any military officer could order and investigate a charge of homosexual behavior. The 2010 revised Don't Ask Don't Tell rules are more defined and limited. Only a General (or Flag) Officer O-7 or higher may order a fact-finding investigation or subsequent discharge of a military servicemember for homosexual conduct.

Including higher ranking officers makes the military proceedings towards homosexuals more thorough, more highly authorized, and more seriously considered. Changed requirements for officers conducting the investigation are also in effect: officers must be in the O-5 pay grade or higher.

CREDIBLE INFORMATION

Another Don't Ask Don't Tell revision dealt with the security of credible information versus rumors and hearsay. Information is at the core of an accusation, as it initiates the investigation of a military servicemember accused of homosexual activity. Such investigations are invasive and stressful. In recognition of the severity of an investigation of this kind, the requirements are for all witness statements to be given under oath. This ensures that all inquiries are serious. Overheard statements, second-hand statements, and third party information intended to harm will be discouraged and brought under scrutiny in any investigative military proceedings.

UPHOLDING PRIVACY

Revised Don't Ask Don't Tell regulations also protect the privacy of military servicemembers by excluding certain information from military discharge proceedings. Such information includes statements given in confidence to lawyers, clergy, medical doctors, and psychotherapists. This ensures privacy for military service members seeking medical treatment, seeking professional emotional and psychological support, and providing sexual orientation information for legal cases.

EQUAL BENEFITS FOR MILITARY SERVICE

The revised standards regarding the treatment of homosexuals in the military reflect President Obama's larger goal to promote equality in the military, without negatively affecting military morale. Equality would mean that military benefits are available for all service members regardless of sexual orientation, as part of the package of military service.



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