I took a little heat from a few people when I noticed that the Defense Department was violating the injunction banning openly gay service members from the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. A couple commenters said that, under the order, the military was not obligated to admit openly gay recruits into the armed services.
The military disagrees:
The Pentagon is instructing military recruiters to accept the applications of gays and lesbians who wish to join the military, but must inform potential recruits that a moratorium on “don’t ask, don’t tell” could be lifted at any moment.
The guidance issued to military recruits is consistent with the Defense Department’s plans to abide by a federal judge’s injunction on the 17-year ban on gays in the military. The Pentagon advised senior military leaders late last week not to ask service members or military applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat the rank and file with dignity and respect and maintain good order and discipline.
Basically, the “implementation” strategy for the end of DADT has already been implemented: don’t ask them about their sexual orientation (as on any other job), treat your employees with dignity and maintain good order and discipline.
I have to tip my hat to the military for putting these policies into place quickly, after an initial lag; at least they’re following the law as it currently exists. But they also are mindful that the law can change, and as such, both DoD and outside groups like Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are warning soldiers and recruits that they are at risk if the government gets a stay on the injunction against DADT.
That said, some activists want to test the policy. Dan Choi, the Arabic linguist who was fired from the Army National Guard in New York for coming out on the Rachel Maddow Show, plans to enlist today in a recruiting office in New York’s Times Square.
Judge Virginia Phillips has still not issued a final ruling on the emergency stay, but she appeared disinclined to agree to the Justice Department’s request. DoJ could appeal to the 9th Circuit for a stay, if they lose.
UPDATE: Marc Ambinder adds that the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, made this decision. He also happens to be part of the team heading up the implementation of repeal. Sounds like he got a jump on it.