Pentagon poised to raise bar for kicking out gays

Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:49pm EDT
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By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to announce on Thursday interim steps that would, in some cases, make it more difficult for gays to be kicked out of the military, defense officials said on Wednesday.

The directives are the result of a 45-day review of what the Pentagon can do in the short-term while Congress considers President Barack Obama's call to repeal the existing "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military.

By December 1, the Pentagon is expected to complete a more sweeping review of how any repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" could be implemented.

The interim changes to be ordered by Gates are expected to include raising the rank of those allowed to begin investigation procedures against suspected violators of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, officials said.

Gates is also expected to raise the bar for what constitutes "credible" information to start an inquiry, and to curb expulsions of servicemen and women "outed" by third parties, the officials said on condition of anonymity because an announcement has yet to be made.

The changes are fashioned to give commanders the leeway to enforce the existing prohibitions in a "fair and more appropriate manner," a defense official said.

Another official said, "He's going to order policy changes within the confines of the existing law to make the procedures less draconian right now."

Critics say the Pentagon has been dragging its feet. It has opposed efforts advocated by some lawmakers to implement a moratorium or an outright repeal before the Pentagon's nearly yearlong review is completed.   Continued...