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article imageGates: 'enormous consequences' in overturning ban on gays

By Michael Krebs     Oct 13, 2010 in Politics
After a judge ordered the US military cease implementing its don't-ask-don't-tell policy on discharging gay personnel, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the reversal would have "enormous consequences."
On Tuesday, a California federal district court judge ruled that the U.S. military's 17-year ban on open homosexuals serving in the military - commonly referred to as "don't-ask-don't-tell" - be halted immediately. The judge's decision was cheered by gay-rights activists, coming on the heels of a significant Senate setback on the matter.
"This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking," Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
However, on Wednesday U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the decision needs to stay in congressional hands.
"I feel strongly this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress and that it is an action that requires careful preparation, and a lot of training," Gates said, according to a BBC report. "It has enormous consequences for our troops."
Mr. Gates appears to have the backing of the Obama administration, as it was also revealed on Wednesday that the White House intends to appeal the judge's decision. While the president is opposed to the don't-ask-don't-tell policy, the appeal by the Justice Department is more of a procedural move to support congressional action.
The don't-ask-don't-tell policy disallows any homosexual or bisexual military service member from disclosing his or her sexual orientation and also from speaking about any homosexual relationships in which they may be involved. The policy is in effect for those serving in all branches of the United States armed forces. Homosexual disclosures of any kind result in discharges.
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