Department Prepares for ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2010 The Defense Department is preparing for passage of a law that overturns the ban on gays serving openly in the military, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote -- possibly as soon as tomorrow -- on a bill the House of Representatives passed Dec. 15 that would repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
“The department is preparing guidance to inform the entire department about that change” should it occur, Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan told reporters.
The guidance would come in the form of a memo from Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Lapan said. It would serve to notify personnel of the change and explain timelines involved in implementing a new law, he said.
Under the House-passed legislation, the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all must certify that the military is prepared to make the change before it can be implemented. A 60-day waiting period would follow that certification before the new law would take effect.
A Pentagon working group led by Jeh C. Johnson, the department’s general counsel, and Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, presented a support plan for implementation on Nov. 30. The plan outlines key policies affected if the law is repealed and information for creating training and communications materials.
The support plan calls for a “pre-repeal” stage to begin at the direction of the secretary of defense prior to a congressional vote to overturn the law. During this time, department and service leaders would continue to review existing policies affected by repeal and prepare new or revised issuances. Leaders also should develop education and training materials and communications plans that would be used in the implementation stage, the plan says, but education and training should not begin before the law is changed.
The implementation stage would begin when Congress passes a new law and would continue after the effective date of repeal and once new policies have been drafted, the plan says. During this stage, the department and services would finalize policy revisions and conduct education and training to prepare for the change, it says.
If the Senate does not vote on the legislation in the coming days, the bill will not be decided by the current Congress, which adjourns next week. Meanwhile, a lawsuit against the 17-year-old law is pending in the federal court system and is expected to be heard in the early spring.
President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, support congressional repeal of the law.