Pentagon eyes more "humane" enforcement of gay ban

Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:47pm EDT
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By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon, ahead of any repeal of the U.S. military's ban on gays in its ranks, will likely announce steps this week that may soften the blow on homosexuals affected by the "don't ask, don't tell" law.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to address ways to allow more "humane enforcement and application" of a policy that has seen thousands of homosexuals forced out of the military, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

"I think he is prepared to offer a way ahead on that subject this week. So stay tuned," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

"Hopefully you'll be seeing him later this week and (he) can address the changes that he is going to be making."

The long-expected announcement follows a 45-day review ordered by Gates, which was completed earlier this month.

One of the ways the Pentagon might relax enforcement of the law could be to halt disciplinary proceedings against gay members of the military who are "outed" by others.

But the Pentagon has been tight-lipped about what steps Gates might announce.

President Barack Obama has called for a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which allows homosexuals to serve in secret but discharges them if their sexual orientation becomes known.   Continued...

<p>U.S. soldiers prepare to fly while standing next to a CH-53 helicopter in Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, March 22, 2010. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>