Pentagon warns gay troops to keep quiet for now
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just a few moments ago the Pentagon's top personnel official, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley, issued a new memo warning gay troops serving silently in the ranks not to change their behavior because of the injunction this week which has temporarily halted enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" law:
Yesterday, the Department of Justice filed an appeal from this injunction and the court’s earlier decision that supports it, and is seeking a stay of the injunction while the appeal is pending. In the interim, the Department of Justice will abide by the terms of the injunction. It is possible that a stay of the injunction could be issued very soon, perhaps in a matter of days. In that event, I will issue additional guidance. The Secretaries of the Military Departments shall ensure immediate compliance with this memorandum.
It remains the policy of the Department of Defense not to as servicemembers or applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and discipline. Further, in light of the appeal and the application for the stay, a certain amount of uncertainty now exists about the future of “don’t ask, don’t tell” law and policy. We note for servicemembers that altering their personal conduct in this legally uncertain environment may have adverse consequences for themselves or others should the court’s decision be reversed. The Department remains committed to the successful completion of the effort by the Comprehensive Review Working Group by December 1st to assess and consider the impacts a change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law could have on military readiness, effectiveness and unit cohesion.
The memo echoes the message gay rights groups have been pushing since Tuesday's announcement of the injunction: Until the legal process is finalized, coming our of the closet could still risk your career.
Stanley's message also repeats the call by Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this week, asking for more time for the Pentagon working group before any changes are made to the controversial 17-year-old policy.