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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

• Feds Feed Families Hits Record Haul: The second annual government-wide food drive has collected more than 1.2 million pounds of food with one week to go. Agencies and the Office of Personnel Management plan to distribute the collected items to food pantries and other charities.

• Question of the Week: How do you think your federal benefits stack up against benefits offered with a comparable job in the private sector? E-mail your answer to federalworker@washpost.com and include your full name, home town and the agency for which you work. We might include your response in Friday's Washington Post.

• Cabinet and Staff News: Thomas Nides in line to replace Jack Lew at the State Department? Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former Sovietologist, to meet with Russia's defense minister. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton causes yet another stir in Japan.

BOEMRE:

• Beleaguered agency brings in the consultants: What do you do when you've got a badly troubled agency in need of an overhaul? You hire the high-priced consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to tell you how to fix it.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:

• 2 bodies are found buried in wrong graves at Arlington: It's the first revelation of bodies being exhumed since the Army released an inspector general report in June that found extensive record-keeping problems.

• Gates starts outlining cuts to save $100 billion for defense: Money saved in cutting overhead and other inefficient costs on weapons programs will go toward modernizing and recapitalizing military equipment and sustaining troops, Pentagon officials said.

FDA:

• It's corn syrup by another name: The makers of high-fructose corn syrup asked the federal government Tuesday for permission to sweeten its image with a new name: corn sugar.

GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING:

• President of ex-Blackwater firm leaves post: Joseph Yorio has left the company as part of a restructuring in preparation for its sale, sources say.

• Lockheed Martin buyout program could cost up to $200 million: The company announced earlier this month that 600 executives - or a quarter of the company's total - have accepted the deal in exchange for leaving by February.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:

• Quicker federal hiring system on track to start in November: The effort is part of Obama's campaign pledge to make the government an attractive employer to a wider pool of job seekers.

• Eleanor Holmes Norton tries to save Small Savers: It's a day-care center slated for elimination when the newly passed financial reform law takes effect next July.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:

• New ruling on claims for spill damage: Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of claims related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, told Florida hotel and restaurant owners he will not impose a "proximity" requirement on those seeking payments for lost business.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:

• Civil rights photographer unmasked as informer: An unsettling asterisk must be added to the legacy of Ernest C. Withers, one of the most celebrated photographers of the civil rights era: He was a paid FBI informer

NTSB:

• Fault set in 2009 Hudson River plane crash: Errors by an air traffic controller distracted by a personal phone call and rules that relied on pilots to avoid collisions contributed to the fatal collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small private plane.

• House to hear NTSB's Metro findings: Some lawmakers are supportive of its recommendation that the Federal Transit Administration develop non-punitive safety reporting programs for all transit agencies.

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE:

• Postal worker hit by police cruiser in Pr. George's dies: Ronald Burgess, 62, of the District was walking across Garrett A. Morgan Boulevard when he was struck traveling from the area of FedEx Field toward Central Avenue about 6:20 a.m.

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