By Andrew Tilghman -
The Pentagon has ordered a halt to all separations of gay troops under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and will begin accepting applications from prospective recruits who identify themselves as homosexuals.
The moratorium issued Friday came after a ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court in California ordering the Defense Department to immediately stop enforcing the law. The court said the law is unconstitutional because it treats gay Americans differently under the law.
Meanwhile, defense officials will continue to prepare for the law’s formal repeal, which Congress approved in December. The law will be formally repealed 60 days after the defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs “certify” that it will not adversely impact military readiness.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he expected certification to occur in late July or early August.
It remains unclear whether the Pentagon will seek to appeal Wednesday’s court ruling, which would have to go to the Supreme Court, Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. David Lapan said Friday.
Troops are currently undergoing training programs to clarify the law and ensure a smooth transition to its repeal. Most of that training is expected to be completed by this summer, yet there is no requirement that 100 percent of the force must be trained prior to repeal, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.
In October, the Pentagon raised the bar for separation of gay troops by requiring the civilian service secretaries and the Pentagon’s top lawyer to approve any separation. Since then, four troops have been separated under the law.