Certifying the end of "don't ask, don't tell" and allowing open service
President Obama's certification the military is ready for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" will allow gays and lesbians in uniform to serve their country without fear of retaliation.
AN end to prohibitions on gays serving in uniform will end in 60 days because President Obama certified the military was ready to move ahead.
The president's signature was key, and required by law, and he had the support of civilian Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Credit the chiefs of the military services with the heft to make this happen, however belatedly.
Last December, Congress voted to end the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" rules that deny gays the right to serve in the military openly. More than 14,000 gays and lesbians were discharged because their sexual orientation became known.
The sheer folly of denying these men and women the opportunity to serve their country became apparent to those trying to retain and promote skilled military members in an all-volunteer environment.
The repeal law built in time elements that could either be seen as opportunities to prepare for a transition or stall. The Pentagon responded with training sessions for officers and enlisted personnel ahead of change.
Relying on civilian political courage alone would not have made this happen. The endorsement of the repeal by the Joint Chiefs and the assignment of a two-star general to oversee implementation represented real commitment.
"As of Sept. 20 service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country," the president said in a statement. His signature Friday on the certification launched the final phase.
This big step sets in motion other changes to be accomplished. Providing for routine dependent coverage for gays and their families is basic: health care, housing and benefits.
Apparently, the federal Defense of Marriage Act stands in the way of those adjustments. In a time of same-sex marriage laws across the country, DOMA must go. Especially if it impedes the service of patriots.
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