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Gays-in-military policy takes effect

The Pentagon's new policy on gays in the military has taken effect with the issuance of a revised set of guidelines for commanders in the field.

"They've been revised to emphasize that DOD (Department of Defense) judges the suitability of persons to serve in the armed forces on the basis of conduct, not sexual orientation," Pentagon spokeswoman Kathleen deLaski said Tuesday.

The revisions do not change the overall policy of "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue," deLaski said.

The new policy came about after President Clinton, facing strong opposition from Congress and the Pentagon, abandoned his campaign pledge to lift outright the 50-year-old ban on homosexuals. He settled for a policy that differs only slightly from the old rules.

The new regulations are designed to help commanders precisely define homosexual conduct and the conditions warranting an investigation that could lead to a service member's removal from the military.

The regulations were first made public in December, and each branch of the service was required to revise its regulations to comply.

However, the Pentagon regulations were revised slightly in response to complaints from some members of Congress that the rules did not conform to a law Congress enacted last year. The revised regulations went to the field on Monday.

DeLaski noted that for nearly a year, service members have not been asked about their sexual orientation when joining the military or when applying for security clearances.

"As of today . . . some other parts of this, particularly the "don't pursue' section of the policy, are kicking into effect," she said.

The new directive, she said, "makes it clear that no defense criminal investigative organization or other DOD law enforcement organization will conduct an investigation solely to determine a service member's sexual orientation."