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Washington Post: Tips on How to Phase Out DADT

The Washington Post
Federal Eye
By Ed O'Keefe
September 15, 2010

A gay rights group leading the charge to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy thinks the Pentagon should allow people discharged under the policy to easily reenlist if lawmakers include a repeal of the gay ban in this year's Defense authorization bill.

The Senate is expected to vote next week to repeal the Clinton-era policy banning gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in uniform. The bill includes language repealing the policy (and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it likely will include an amendment to help young people in the country illegally become legal U.S. residents).

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents dozens of current and former service members impacted by the policy, this week sent formal recommendations to a Pentagon working group reviewing the potential impact of repeal. Here are a few highlights:

• Adopt a policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation: "This is necessary in light of the history of past discrimination," SLDN says. "This is easy -- simply add sexual orientation to the Human Goals Charter, the Military Equal Opportunity program and associated training programs."

• Recognize that gay and lesbian service members have partners and children: "The armed services should allow service members to identify their same-sex domestic partners and the children of these relationships in their personnel records," the group says. "This is important for identification of next of kin, security issues and deployment readiness."

• "To the extent possible, treat gay and lesbian service members like their straight comrades with respect to pay, benefits and family support services."

• Allow service members discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" to rejoin the armed forces if they are otherwise qualified for re-accession: "The services should train military personnel specialists to handle applications from discharged service members and give them the authority to amend the applicants' records to permit re-accession if the former service member is otherwise qualified."

• Adopt streamlined procedures for service members discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" and prior homosexual conduct policies to have their discharge records amended: "Reentry codes and discharge characterizations are important to former service members, for both personal and employment reasons. Streamlined procedures should be instituted to have their records changed."

• Repeal will have no effect on military chaplains: "They operate today in a pluralistic environment, ministering to service members, in many cases, with whom they do not agree and of whom they do not approve. It will be no different after repeal." (I'm sure some chaplains think differently...)

Regardless whether it takes these ideas into account, the Pentagon working group must turn in its recommendations by Dec. 1 to President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen.

Read the full recommendations and leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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