(CNSNews.com) -- After announcing changes to its existing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy, the Department of Defense (DoD) told CNSNews.com that a member of the military who makes “a statement that he or she is homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect” still “can be separated” from the armed forces.
The policy changes, announced at a Mar. 25 press briefing at the Pentagon, basically make it harder to initiate an official inquiry into whether a soldier is homosexual, raise the authority level needed to discharge a soldier, and set stricter rules on evidence and confidential information used in such inquiries.
“These changes reflect some of the insights we have gained over 17 years of implementing the current law, including the need for consistency, oversight and clear standards,” said Defense Sec. Robert Gates on Mar. 25. “I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice -- above all, by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved.”
Taking questions from reporters at the press briefing, DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson said the law does not require service members to be discharged for simply being homosexual.
"The law says that upon a finding of homosexual conduct -- and the law defines what constitutes homosexual conduct -- a person should be separated,” said Johnson. “The law does not require that a person be separated simply for homosexuality -- it's homosexual conduct. And in these regs, we have revised the standards for which an inquiry or separation proceeding to determine whether a person has engaged in homosexual conduct should be separated.”
Existing law, Article 10, Section 654 of U.S. Code, says a service member can be separated if he or she has “stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect.”
CNSNews.com asked the Department of Defense, “Will service members still be discharged for revealing that they are a homosexual?”
Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said, “Yes, if a service member makes a statement that he or she is homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect, the member can be separated pursuant to the procedures in the DoD regulations.”
Article 10, Section 654 of U.S. Code states the following:
“(b) Policy. - A member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense if one or more of the following findings is made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulations.”
These findings include:
“(2) That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect, unless there is a further finding, made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in the regulations, that the member has demonstrated that he or she is not a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts.”
In his statement about the changes in DADT policy, Defense Sec. Gates said, “We will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to initiate a fact-finding inquiry or separation proceeding regarding homosexual conduct to a general or flag officer in the service member’s chain of command."