Reaction mixed to Pentagon status report; 9th Circuit case to proceed

James Cartwright (right)

Reaction has been mixed to the Pentagon’s status report Friday, January 28, saying training to prepare for implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell could begin as early as next month.

And a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Friday rejected a motion from the U. S. Department of Justice to halt proceedings on a legal challenge to the ban on gay servicemembers pending in that court.

It has been just over a month since President Obama signed the bill to repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.

And Pentagon officials on Friday they think they may be ready to begin implementation of the new law within the year.

General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a press briefing January 28 that there is no hard and fast date by which the Pentagon believes it will be able to implement repeal.

The repeal law, Obama signed in December, requires that the president, the defense secretary, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certify in writing” that implementation of repeal can begin without compromising military readiness. Then another 60-day “review” period must take place before the ban on gays is officially over.

General Cartwright said that the individual service chiefs would be able to put a “pause” on the process if they run up against any unforeseen obstacles but that certification could happen before all troops receive direct training.

Aubrey Sarvis, head of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said he thinks the Pentagon is taking “thoughtful steps to move toward certification and implementation of open service.”

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese was guarded.

“While this implementation plan is a step in the right direction,” said Solmonese, in a statement released Friday, “it is critical that the Department address benefits issues and non-discrimination protections so that all service members are treated equally.”

The Pentagon, said the HRC statement, “does not go far enough in calling for parity in benefits that could be accomplished through revised regulations that add same-sex committed partners to the definitions of ‘dependent,’ ’family member,’ or other similar terms. Such a step would be consistent with President Obama’s June 2009 memorandum that all federal agencies take steps to extend benefits equally to lesbian and gay employees, where permitted by law.”

Meanwhile, the ACLU said Friday it is “disappointed” with a DOD memo that stipulates the Department will not provide any compensation for servicemembers discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The organization noted that, servicemembers discharged under DADT have been “entitled to half of the sum paid to other honorably discharged service members to ease their transition into civilian life.”

“The least that the government can do is make the victims of this discriminatory policy whole,” said Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. The ACLU filed suit in a federal court in New Mexico last November seeking full compensation for those discharged under the policy over the past six years.

Service members who have been unconstitutionally discharged because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Block, “should receive the separation pay to which they are entitled.”

The lawsuit pending in the 9th Circuit, filed and won by Log Cabin Republicans at the U.S. district court level, will proceed. The DOJ is due to file its brief on the appeal February 25.

2 Responses to Reaction mixed to Pentagon status report; 9th Circuit case to proceed

  1. Tom says:

    Do ask do tell now at http:/ -the gay military network.

  2. John says:

    Great feather in Obama’s hat! His Congress repealed an unconstitutional law! And still we see all this foot dragging and the “catch 22” loophole. Could anyone really expect otherwise? This is rubbish. The military knew this was coming and they have had decades to prepare. No NATO nation that has done this has experienced the problems the U.S. military screed about.

    Yes, stay the course in court. Just bring the sucker down.

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