Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Military allows the enlistment of openly gay recruits

Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran discharged from the military in July because he announced publicly that he is gay, re-enlisted on Tuesday.

Associated Press

Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran discharged from the military in July because he announced publicly that he is gay, re-enlisted on Tuesday.

The U.S. military, for the first time, is allowing its recruiters to accept openly gay and lesbian applicants.

The historic move follows a series of decisions by a federal judge in California, Virginia Phillips, who ruled last month that the "don't ask, don't tell" law violates the equal protection and First Amendment rights of service members. On Oct. 12, she ordered the military to stop enforcing the law.

President Barack Obama has said that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy "will end, and it will end on my watch." But the Department of Justice, following its tradition of defending laws passed by Congress, has fought efforts by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization, to overturn the policy.

Phillips ruled Tuesday that she was denying requests by the government to maintain the status quo during the appeals process. The Pentagon has stated its intent to file an appeal in case of such a ruling. But meanwhile, it has started complying with Phillips' instructions while the dispute over her orders plays out.

New instructions were e-mailed to recruiters Friday for handling situations in which applicants volunteer their sexual orientation. Recruiters do not ask about sexual orientation and have not since the "don't ask, don't tell" law went into effect in the 1990s.

Recruiters were also told that they must inform the applicants that the moratorium on "don't ask, don't tell" could be reversed.

R. Clarke Cooper, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, applauded the Pentagon decision as "a huge deal."

Cooper noted, however, that under the new rules, a service member who announces his or her sexual orientation "does run the risk of discharge if the ruling is overturned — if there is a successful appeal by the Department of Justice."

"They do need to be aware of that possibility," he said.

Cooper, a member of the Army Reserve, said that he was taking part in war games last week at Fort Huachuca in Arizona when the injunction was issued, and that he was surprised by the lack of visible opposition or outcry.

He likened it to a "giant shoulder shrug of 'so what.' " Most of the people he was with, he added, were younger members of the service, and "a few people actually thought repeal had already occurred."

Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined to address a question about whether a recruit who volunteered that he was gay during the current suspension of the law might face expulsion from the military if the decision were appealed.

She called that situation hypothetical and said only that recruiters have been reminded that "they need to set expectations by informing the applicant that a reversal for the 'don't ask, don't tell' law may occur."

A prominent opponent of service by gay and lesbian people dismissed the Pentagon shift as "a political ploy."

Elaine Donnelly, the founder of the Center for Military Readiness, a conservative organization that opposes gay service in the military, said Congress, under the Constitution, has the authority to draft rules for the military.

The Department of Justice, she added, acted properly by filing its request for a stay.

Military recruiters were adjusting to the change in policy Tuesday.

Dan Choi, who was discharged from the Army under "don't ask, don't tell," tried to re-enlist at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Manhattan. Photographers and reporters crowded around the door, and they, in turn, were ringed by tourists and bystanders.

Choi, who emerged from the station wearing a dark dress shirt, blue jeans and a black pea coat, said, "They're processing me."

Military allows the enlistment of openly gay recruits 10/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"

    Blogs

    The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.

  2. FWC: Fish away for invasive lionfish

    Water

    Times staff

    What could be better than fishing and helping save the Gulf of Mexico?

    Add prizes.

    Lionfish, originally from the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, are an invasive species in the Gulf of Mexico. [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Gerald McCoy cares too much about what you think of him

    The Heater

    Gerald McCoy is right. We are going to miss him when he's gone.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of 16 players to record at least five sacks in each of the past five seasons. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Ronde Barber says comments about McCoy 'sensationalized'

    Blogs

    If anyone thinks Ronde Barber was throwing shade at Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, think again.

    "That anyone would assume I would say the best player on the defense isn’t a bad dude is irresponsible and sensationalizing a quote to serve their own means,'' Ronde Barber said.
  5. Nine years later, library attack victim Queena works at learning to walk again

    News

    Slowly, Queena Phu is learning the act of walking again through exercises in locomotion, strength and balance.

    Queena Phu of Tampa and prosecutor Rita Peters arrive at the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center on Monday.
 Phu, 27, has endured a long road to recovery after suffering brain damage from a brutal attack that left her unable to walk, talk, see or eat on her own. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]