USA — Working Group Unaffected by Senate Vote, Spokesman Says

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2010 — Yesterday’s Sen­ate vote that failed to begin debate on the defense autho­riza­tion bill was an inter­nal leg­isla­tive pro­ce­dur­al mat­ter and does not change the Defense Department’s process on the pos­si­ble repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said here today.

The bill includes an amend­ment for the repeal of the law that bans gays from serv­ing open­ly in the military. 

Jeh C. John­son, DOD’s gen­er­al coun­sel, and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, com­man­der of U.S. Army Europe, lead the department’s com­pre­hen­sive review of the issues asso­ci­at­ed with repeal of the law. They also assess the effects that repeal of the law would have on mil­i­tary readi­ness, effec­tive­ness, unit cohe­sion, recruit­ing, reten­tion and fam­i­ly readi­ness, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said. 

Offi­cials will use the infor­ma­tion gath­ered by the John­son-Carter group to plan imple­men­ta­tion guide­lines if the repeal hap­pens, Lapan added, and John­son and Carter are to sub­mit a report to Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates on Dec. 1. 

“Noth­ing from yes­ter­day changes what the work­ing group is going to do in the report they give to the sec­re­tary,” Lapan said. 

The work­ing group has sent sur­veys to ser­vice­mem­bers and their fam­i­ly mem­bers. A total of 115,000 ser­vice­mem­bers have returned their sur­veys – designed to gauge their feel­ings on the issue – for a 29 per­cent response rate. To date, 38,000 fam­i­ly mem­bers have returned their sur­veys. Fam­i­ly mem­bers have until Sept. 27 to return their com­plet­ed forms.

Polling pro­fes­sion­als said the response rate is above the norm, Lapan noted. 

John­son and Ham have con­duct­ed numer­ous infor­ma­tion exchange ses­sions with more than 20,000 ser­vice­mem­bers and their fam­i­lies. In addi­tion, more than 65,000 com­ments have been e‑mailed to the work­ing group. 

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

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