Pentagon Officials Explain Repeal Implementation

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2011 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are sat­is­fied the mil­i­tary can imple­ment the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

The three men cer­ti­fied to Con­gress that repeal can be accom­plished with no effect on mil­i­tary readi­ness, mil­i­tary effec­tive­ness, unit cohe­sion, and recruit­ing and reten­tion, Clif­ford L. Stan­ley, under­sec­re­tary of defense for per­son­nel and readi­ness, told Pen­ta­gon reporters today.

The repeal law, passed in Decem­ber, man­dat­ed that ser­vice mem­bers receive train­ing on the effects of repeal. To date, more than 1.9 mil­lion active and reserve-com­po­nent ser­vice mem­bers have received the train­ing, and it will con­tin­ue through Sep­tem­ber, said Stan­ley, who chaired the Pentagon’s repeal imple­men­ta­tion effort.

“Through­out this process, we have reg­u­lar­ly engaged the ser­vices and com­bat­ant com­mands,” Stan­ley said. “Feed­back was con­sis­tent­ly pos­i­tive. Train­ing was being well-received, and there were no issues or bar­ri­ers aris­ing.”

Stan­ley stressed that for the mil­i­tary, this change “is all about lead­er­ship, pro­fes­sion­al­ism dis­ci­pline and respect.”

“It remains a pol­i­cy of the Depart­ment of Defense that sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion is a per­son­al and pri­vate mat­ter – to treat all mem­bers with dig­ni­ty and respect, and to ensure main­te­nance of good order and dis­ci­pline,” he said. “There will be zero tol­er­ance for harass­ment, vio­lence or dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind.”

Since pas­sage of the repeal act, DOD per­son­nel have worked to pre­pare the nec­es­sary poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions to imple­ment repeal and to train ser­vice mem­bers, said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Steven A. Hum­mer, chief of staff for the repeal imple­men­ta­tion team, who also briefed reporters.

“It is the gen­er­al con­sen­sus of the mil­i­tary depart­ments that this thought­ful and steady approach to edu­cat­ing and prepar­ing the force and revis­ing poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions has laid the ground­work for a smooth and order­ly tran­si­tion,” the gen­er­al said.

Defense Depart­ment per­son­nel also iden­ti­fied reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies that have to be revised to make them neu­tral with respect to sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion.

“These revised poli­cies will be effec­tive upon the date of repeal,” Hum­mer said. The repeal takes effect Sept. 20, when a 60-day wait­ing peri­od required by the repeal leg­is­la­tion runs out. “The major­i­ty of DOD and ser­vice-led poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions remain the same, as they are already sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion-neu­tral,” the gen­er­al added.

Repeal means changes to acces­sions, sep­a­ra­tions and re-acces­sions. “Upon repeal, state­ments about sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion will no longer be a bar to mil­i­tary ser­vice,” the gen­er­al said. “Upon repeal, for­mer ser­vice mem­bers sole­ly dis­charged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may reap­ply for re-entry.”

Stan­dards of con­duct will con­tin­ue to apply to all ser­vice mem­bers, regard­less of sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, he said. “All are respon­si­ble for uphold­ing those high stan­dards, and enforce­ment of ser­vice stan­dards of con­duct will con­tin­ue to be sex­u­al-ori­en­ta­tion neu­tral,” Hum­mer said.

Liv­ing quar­ters will remain as they are today, and com­man­ders can­not phys­i­cal­ly seg­re­gate mem­bers by sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. Gay ser­vice mem­bers will be sub­ject to world­wide deploy­ment.

Dur­ing the next 60 days, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials will exam­ine ben­e­fits. Right now, eli­gi­bil­i­ty for mil­i­tary ben­e­fits will remain the same, Hum­mer said. Ser­vice mem­bers may des­ig­nate part­ners as ben­e­fi­cia­ries for life insur­ance, the thrift sav­ings plan and sur­vivor ben­e­fits, he added.

“The Defense of Mar­riage Act and exist­ing def­i­n­i­tion of ‘depen­dent’ in some laws pro­hib­it exten­sion of many mil­i­tary ben­e­fits to same-sex cou­ples,” the gen­er­al said. “Those exam­ples are health care, hous­ing allowance, trans­porta­tion allowance, etc. The depart­ment will con­tin­ue to study exist­ing ben­e­fits to deter­mine those, if any, that should be reviewed based on pol­i­cy, fis­cal, legal and fea­si­bil­i­ty con­sid­er­a­tions to give the ser­vice mem­ber the dis­cre­tion to des­ig­nate per­sons of their own choos­ing as ben­e­fi­cia­ries.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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