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Military Recruiters Accept Openly Gay Applicants

On Friday, the Pentagon informed military recruiters that they may now accept openly gay and lesbian candidates for recruitment. The new protocol emerged as a result of US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips’ October 12 ruling, which declares the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy unconstitutional and orders the military to immediately drop any pending investigations or proceedings related to the policy. So far, the US Department of Defense has upheld the court’s injunction. Recruiters are also required to inform candidates that the current protocol may be reversed. R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans, the organization that challenged DADT in court, told the New York Times that an openly gay recruit “does run the risk of discharge if the ruling is overturned–if there is a successful appeal by the Department of Justice.” Other gay rights groups have cautioned candidates and current members against revealing their sexual orientation to the military while the ruling is under consideration. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis told CNN, “the bottom line: if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon.” The New York Times reports that under DADT, recruiters were instructed not to ask about a candidate’s sexual orientation. Following Phillips’ ruling, however, the application for enlistment may still be processed even if the candidate states that he or she is openly gay as long as he or she meets normal recruitment standards. Since Friday’s change in protocol, a number of high-profile former military members who were discharged due to their orientation have attempted to reenlist. The New York Times reports that former Army Lieutenant and Iraq war veteran Dan Choi tried to reenlist on Tuesday. He said that recruiters did not react to his request and there were no delays in the process; however, not all attempts have been so successful. Omar Lopez, an openly gay former Navy member discharged in 2006 was rejected by recruiters on October 13. DADT was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, and also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of more than 13,000 troops.

Sources:

New York Times 10/19/10; CNN 10/20/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 10/18/10