Report Shows Success of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2012 A new report shows the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law is being implemented successfully in the military, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during a news conference today.
The repeal of the law banning gay and lesbian people from open military service took effect Sept. 20, 2011. The secretary said he received the report on repeal implementation yesterday, and it shows repeal is going “very well” and according to the department’s plans.
“It's not impacting on morale. It's not impacting on unit cohesion. It is not impacting on readiness,” he said.
Panetta said he credits military leaders for effective repeal planning.
“Very frankly, my view is that the military has kind of moved beyond it,” he said. “It's become part and parcel of what they've accepted within the military.”
During the same conference, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he has not seen “any negative effect on good order and discipline” resulting from the repeal.
In response to a reporter’s question of what the military had been afraid of in allowing open service, the chairman said, “We didn't know.”
“We were given a year to make this assessment, to educate ourselves, to collaborate, to build a sense of trust on this issue,” he added. “And given that time to do it, I think it worked out well.”
In addition to the report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Panetta also spoke about a second law that impacts the rights and benefits of same-sex partners in the military, the Defense of Marriage Act.
The act “obviously does have some impact with regards to the benefits that are provided to same-sex couples,” Panetta said. “And so we continue to review the benefits. But those have to be provided consistent with DOMA. And until DOMA is either rejected by the courts or changed by the Congress, that's the law we abide by.”
Panetta added same-sex marriages are allowed by law in some states. “Where state law provides for that, then obviously that kind of marriage can take place,” he said. “If the law … prohibits that, then it cannot take place on a military [installation].”
Dempsey said military partner benefits fall into three categories: self-declared benefits, such as service members’ naming of life insurance beneficiaries; benefits governed by policy, which the secretary determines and which are under review; and those set by law, such as marriage.
“Those three bins, if you will, are each rather clear in how we approach it,” he added.