Obama: Gay soldiers will no longer live lie
President Barack Obama Wednesday signed a landmark law to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military for the first time, but it could be many months before a move some top officers warn may endanger troops will finally take effect.
The Pentagon is drafting new rules following the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which Congress passed this month, to cheers from opponents of a long-standing policy that forced gay service members to hide their sexuality.
Since the Pentagon introduced the policy in 1993, ending a blanket ban on gay soldiers, at least 13,000 people have been expelled from the armed forces for violating the rules.
“No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie or look over their shoulder in order to serve,” Obama said before signing the repeal and making good on a key campaign pledge.
Despite divisions at the top of the military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen supported an end to the policy, pointing to a recent Pentagon study that concluded the risks were low.
The Pentagon must now draft a plan that will decide how troops will be educated about the new policy and make decisions about disciplinary procedures, benefits or the status of those fired for violating DADT in the past, said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.