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Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Ban on gays in military ends

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Gay advocacy groups planned a series of celebrations across the country.

(Photo: Associated Press)

At a San Diego bar, current and former troops danced and counted down to midnight. "You are all heroes," Sean Sala, a former Navy operations specialist, said. "The days of your faces being blacked out on the news — no more."

The head of Pentagon personnel put out a memo to the work force at 12:01 a.m. EDT. "All service members are to treat one another with dignity and respect regardless of sexual orientation," the memo from Clifford Stanley said.

"The Department of Defense is committed to promoting an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible regardless of sexual orientation."

In Iraq, a spokesman for U.S forces put out a statement Tuesday morning noting that all troops there had been trained for the change.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said Monday that the military is adequately prepared for the end of the current policy, commonly known as "don't ask, don't tell," under which gays can serve as long as they don't openly acknowledge their sexual orientation and commanders are not allowed to ask.

"No one should be left with the impression that we are unprepared. We are prepared for repeal," Little said.

Last week, the Pentagon said 97 percent of the military has undergone training in the new law.

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