Under new rules adopted Oct. 21, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put authority for signing off on dismissals in the hands of the three service secretaries.There were 428 DADT discharges in 2009, despite President Obama's insistence that he wants to end the policy. Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of The Palm Center said of the news, "Statistically, it would be extremely unlikely if we had a month in which there were no gay discharges. When you require a service secretary to sign off on a discharge, you are basically saying, 'We don't want any people in this category discharged unless there is an exceptional situation.'"
Before then, any commanding officer at a rank equivalent to a one-star general could discharge gay enlisted personnel under the 1993 law that prohibits gays from serving openly in uniform.
Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told The Associated Press that no discharges have been approved since Oct. 21.
Smith did not know if the absence of recent discharges was related to the new separation procedures. The Pentagon has not compiled monthly discharge figures for any other months this year, she said.
Aubrey Sarvis of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network welcomed the news, but cautions that we're not out of the woods yet. "We have clients who are still under investigation, who are still having to respond, and in fact we have a client under investigation right now under suicide watch. So 'don't ask, don't tell' has not gone away."
I've never served in the military and I don't pretend to completely understand things work. But in the private sector workplace, when something gets escalated up the chain of command, it's because there's something wrong with the way it was handled at the lower level. Gates said last month when the rule change went into effect that concentrating the authority at a higher level was intended to ensure a level of "uniformity and care" at a time of legal uncertainty.
I don't know about you, but this sets off all sorts of alarms in my head about whether or not proper procedures were followed in every discharge that's taken place since Bill Clinton's "compromise" went into effect in 1993. We've all heard stories over the years of service men and women being followed to gay bars during their off duty hours and having their e-mails and voice mails hacked, based on nothing more than rumor and speculation. There have also been reports that African-American women have been the largest LGBT group targeted by investigations.
Even when this is all over and done, somebody's gonna have some 'splainin' to do.