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Study and New Bills both Address Gays in the Military

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new study is under way to gauge the effects of a major change in the military's "don't ask don't tell policy," in place since 1993. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Congress he thinks a change in the law is "probably inevitable," but will make sure a thorough understanding of the consequences for a military at war will be considered. Last Wednesday, Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Army Forces Europe and co-leader of the study, testified before a House committee. "Military readiness and effectiveness must retain primacy here," he said.

Pentagon General Legal Counsel Jeh Johnson is the other leader of the study. "We've asked working group members to set aside their personal opinions regarding repeal or not repeal and to go about their work in an objective comprehensive fashion," Johnson said.

However, despite the planned year-long study, Democrats have already begun introducing legislation in the House and the Senate to repeal the old law. MSNBC reports that the results of the study are not due until December 1 of this year, but more than a dozen Senators introduced legislation on the topic as of last Wednesday. "They're ready for it and we're ready for it," said Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken.

The landslide of proposed legislation does not flow only from the Democrats. Fox News reports Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) also introduced a bill on March 3, to repeal don't ask, don't tell. Lieberman's bill, entitled the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010, would specifically prohibit discrimination against service members on the basis of sexual orientation.

In the House, there are 189 cosponsors of House legislation to repeal the current law.

According to Fox News, however, there is still some resistance to the move toward change. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif). and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), still support the old policy. "At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," McCain said before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, calling the law "imperfect but effective."

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