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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 158-98
April 07, 1998

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE RELEASES REPORT OF REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION OF HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT POLICY

The Department of Defense released today the report of its review of how well the Department's policies on homosexual conduct in the military are being applied and enforced. In April, 1997, the Secretary of Defense tasked the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to conduct the review. The Under Secretary directed the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy to head the review. A working group was formed consisting of legal and personnel representatives from each of the military Services and from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Senior representatives from each of the Services met with senior legal and personnel officials to discuss policy implementation. Discussions included the Services' handling of individual incidents, their conduct of individual investigations, and their processing of individual separation cases which were cited by the Department of Defense as possibly non-compliant with the Department's policy. The Services provided Office of the Secretary of Defense staff with selected case files, including commander-directed investigations, records of administrative discharge hearings, and Inspector General investigation reports. Each matter was carefully reviewed. New cases and cases brought to the attention of the Department by members of Congress and advocate organizations were also reviewed.

Proper implementation of the policy on homosexual conduct, which was instituted following the enactment of a federal statute in February, 1994, has been and remains a high priority within the Department of Defense. The balance that the policy strikes between the prohibition of homosexual conduct in the military and the privacy rights of service members has posed a challenge to the Services. Commanders must enforce the statutory ban on homosexual conduct while at the same time respecting the limits that the policy imposes on investigations of such conduct.

Secretary Cohen has strongly stated that harassment or threats of violence against allegedly homosexual service members will not be tolerated, that fact-finding inquiries into homosexual conduct may be initiated only when the commander has received credible information that there is a basis for discharge, that fact-finding inquiries must be limited to the factual circumstances directly relevant to specific credible information received, and that fact-finding inquiries must not be unduly intrusive.

The report concludes that, for the most part, the policy has been properly applied and enforced. It also recommends, however, several specific steps to enhance implementation of the policy. The complete 16-page report is available on the Department of Defense site on the Internet.