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Pentagon plans new rules on gays

The Pentagon has decided to issue new guidelines intended to end abuses of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, including limits on investigations of people in uniform who are suspected of being gay, the New York Times is reporting in today's editions.

The guidelines will be issued as early as today, administration officials said, and will require that troops receive anti-gay-harassment training throughout their careers, beginning with boot camp, the paper said.

The guidelines also will require that when an investigation is opened into the sexual orientation of a soldier, the inquiry will be handled at a senior level of the military justice system.

Abuses in the past have often been attributed to low-level, poorly trained investigators who have turned their inquiries into virtual witch hunts.

Administration officials said the Pentagon felt the need to announce the new guidelines as quickly as possible, because of the uproar over the death last month of a gay soldier at Fort Campbell, Ky., who was beaten with a bat, reportedly by a soldier in his unit.

Openly gay people are still barred from serving in the military. But under a compromise plan developed early in the Clinton administration, gays can remain in the service as long as they do not discuss their sexual orientation publicly. Investigators are barred from asking troops about their sexual orientation.

But carrying out of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, as it came to be known, has produced frequent abuses, notably when commanders have pursued investigations of the sexual orientation of their troops based only on suspicion or rumor.

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