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Will the US Military Stay Out of Soldiers’ Bedroom? New Rulings On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

March 29, 2010

I have trouble issuing a label to people based on their sexual orientation, because it really does seem a needless piece of information, unless you’re in the military according to top brass.  Apparently though, the military now says that jilted lovers’ testimony won’t be allowed in hearings to determine sexuality. Never mind that hearings regarding a person’s sexual preference rival the Salem witch trials, but now the military is changing its stance on testimony:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday approved new rules that will make it harder to discharge gays from the military, calling the changes a matter of “common sense and common decency.”

Gates announced new guidelines for how the Pentagon carries out the 1993 law banning gays from serving openly in the military — ruleswhich essentially put higher-ranking officers in charge of discharge proceedings and impose tougher requirements for evidence used against gays.

The new guidelines go into effect immediately. They are considered a stopgap measure until Congress decides whether to go along with President Barak Obama’s call for a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.

“I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law” is applied, Gates told a Pentagon news conference. He said the changes will provide “a greater measure of common sense and common decency” on a difficult issue.

The changes raise the level of officer authorized to initiate a fact-finding inquiry into a case, the level of officer who can conduct an inquiry and of the one that can authorize a dismissal.

To discourage the use of overheard statements or hearsay, from now on any evidence given in third-party outings must be given under oath, Gates said. Cases of third-party outings also have included instances in which male troops have turned in women who rejected their romantic advances or jilted partners in relationship have turned in a former lover.

Some kinds of confidential information also will no longer be allowed, including statements gays make to their lawyers, clergy, psychotherapists or medical professionals in the pursuit of health care.

“Common decency” might mean that unless the sexual preference is criminal we leave people alone, stay out of their bedrooms and all the rest.  But apparently the military gets nervous that somehow not rousting men and women from the military in trials designed to “investigate” a person’s sexual history, practices and former lovers  would “undermine military cohesion and effectiveness.” Perhaps not being in the armed service I don’t understand how putting people on trial based on allegations made from their past lovers about performance in the sack would boost morale, but it would certainly move me away from “serving my country” if that meant that the government had a right to then know what my exes said about everything we did in the bedroom.

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