July 1st, 2009
12:41 PM ET

Is Gates giving 'Don't ask, don't tell' a closer look?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/01/gates.gays/art.gates.gi.jpg caption="U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there may be flexibility in applying "don't ask, don't tell.""]

Barbara Starr
Pentagon Correspondent

Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the first time is outlining potential Obama Administration plans to selectively enforce the "don't ask don't tell" ban on gays in the military so that some gays could serve.

Gates says he is now looking at ways to make the ban "more humane" including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover. The remarks were made in a transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon.

Gates told reporters traveling with him, "One of the things we're looking at - is there flexibility in how we apply this law?" As the "don't ask don't tell" law now stands, anyone who is openly gay in the military is expelled if they are found out.

Gates indicated he is looking at several options. "Let me give you an example. Do we need to be driven when the information, to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted."

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Filed under: Barbara Starr • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Military • Robert Gates
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Why can't the individual be reassigned rather than terminated from the military? If they have valuable skills or can be trained to do something the military needs to be done, I would think there would be plenty of places to reassign them. I have read in some countries the country regards same-sex relationships as sinful and will kill the person for it – if they are stationed in a country like that and it would endanger their squad to be there I can see the rest of the squad wanting them out – another unit in another country though could be just right for them. Don't waste talent just because you don't like their living preferences.

    July 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  2. Allen in Hartwell GA

    I'm probably one of the few who actually served in the military. I also had the disgust of being hit on by a "homosexual". Believe me, after that happened I wouldn't have pulled guard duty with him in a foxhole, much less shared a shower with him. Straight military guys really do care, no matter what you read on this blog. "Don;t Ask – Don't Tell" is as far as I'd go in allowing them to serve. One bad apple can spoil the barrel.

    July 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  3. jason, pasadena ca

    As a bisexual man, I'm appalled that the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy could be overturned. The thought that showers and barracks could be inhabited by soldiers who are boyfriends, or that a commanding officers would be allowed to openly show affection or interest in fellow soldiers based on their physical appearance (and attraction) is disgusting; less-attractive soldiers will be treated differently from good-looking soldiers. The barracks will be places for sexual trysts. Soldiers, many of whom are very young and trying to figure out their place in the world could be judged by their physical appearance by commanding offices, fellow soldiers, and by gay men who define themselves according to what type of person they are physically attracted to. MORALE will be affected if an attractive soldier has a romance, and other soldiers become jealous while living in the same barracks!

    July 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  4. Beverly

    You can't "just do it" in Washington DC. You can't just ANYTHING in Washington, D.C. Easy for you to say just do it. Not with the obstructionist republicans...

    July 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  5. Lesley Anne

    I agree with Cindy and Lisa in LA. Obama should put on his Nike's and just do it!

    July 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  6. Beverly

    I see Cindy still takes any chance she can get to bash President Obama. Like it's HIS fault this policy is in place. It seems you know him personally??? Get over the election Cindy. At least President Obama won fair and square. He hasn't been in office a year – give him some room. You gave GW 8 years!!!

    July 1, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  7. Beverly

    You see time and time again people in the military – excellent officers, soldiers, marines, sailors, etc., who get bounced out because they admitted they were gay. Yet if they kept quiet they would still be in. How ludicrous is that? I would rather have a military personnel the caliber of these gay military personnel than alot of the nut jobs that are in there now who like to shoot innocent people, rape little girls, frag their own people, etc. It doesn't change the person you knew before to something else when he/she admits he/she are gay/lesbian. It is obviously the higher ups who are the homophobs. By the way, I am an Army brat and heterosexual.

    July 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  8. Mark

    Much of the coverage on DADT has talked only about the inability of LGBT to defend and serve for the country's armed forces and the impact this has on the military (both in new men/women serving and new enrollment).

    There has been an almost complete lack of discussion surrounding gay military safety while here in the US. I personally have twice witnessed severe, life-threatening beatings on closeted military men in the LGBT neighborhoods of San Diego. Gay military must lie and defend themselves in the context of a gay community, sometimes over compensating and insulting the gay community. These insults lead to violence and serious safety risks. I imagine the problem goes far beyond my two isolated experiences. These domestic issues go completely unreported for obvious reasons.

    Why is this? What can be done to bring this to light?

    July 1, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  9. sharon, sydney, ns

    I think it's a shame that a person who is willing to sacrifice his/her life for his/her country isn't allowed to because he or she is gay. It's suppression; it's the stripping away of one's civil rights, one's basic human rights. As a straight woman I find it absolutely ludicrous that the US, a leader in fighting for human rights globally, would not allow gay soldiers to serve openly. A soldier is a soldier. They sign up because they are willing to fight and/or die for their country. I can't believe sexual orientation is even thought of. The Canadian Gov't let's their gay soldiers serve openly and I am proud of that. It (our gov't) is not perfect, but at least in this respect they are definitly an equal opportunity employer, which all governments should be or at least be working toward. Oh yeah, to all the Canucks out there, Happy Canada Day!!

    July 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  10. Lisa in CA

    Selectively enforce it? Just eliminate it altogether. The one "change" (besides who sits in the Oval Office) that Obama has brought is a younger generation to the forefront ... and this younger generation is whole lot more tolerant and accepting of alternative lifestyles than the recently departed Old Guard. Get with it and eliminate this joke of a policy.

    July 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  11. Teresa, OH

    so, we can have gays in elected offices... but not in the military?

    Ruby: love your name : ) But, wherever in the world did you get the idea that the military is there to fight for sexual freedoms?

    re: "they fight for our so call “Freedom of everything” is that really what military personnel are told? how perfectly silly.

    July 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  12. Jrock

    Is CNN covering the budget crisis facing a dozen or more states? Why is this not a top story? We have a large number of states who are looking at a crisis of monumental proportions and CNN does not cover it? Perhaps it is hidden somewhere on this site that I have not been able to find. Wake up the federal government will be in the same position as these states sooner than you think. Better start reporting on the important stuff.

    July 1, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  13. Rick

    Maybe they should leave it like it is. I bet most military personnel feel the same.It can cause problems by just being open about being gay in the military. Even in today's world.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Myriam Allouko Fiankan

    Hello Anderson:

    I watch your program daily. You always cover relevant news around the world and in the USA, and I particularly enjoyed that you humanize most topics that you cover.

    My family and I have been quite sadened by the continuous coverage on Michael Jackson, specifically with your team/colleagues at CNN spending all that time and energy on saying that Michael isn't the biological father of his 3 kids. He is gone, and his children just need to know that he was their father in all the ways that matter.

    A father is someone who wanted you, loved you and took care of you.

    Please, stop buying into all that brouhaha..stay positive for these children who have lost their father, their only parent.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Ruby Coria LA., CA.

    What a joke! Do we live in cave man times? & even in cave man years, there where Gays & Lesbians! What is the problem?, why is it even a question to give us equal right! My brother severed 6yrs (U.S.M.C. Golf War, & Somalia) Military guys & gals & their family's are super proud, because they fight for our so call "Freedom of everything" I tell my brother you guys are full of crap, because you could have die, & we are still Not don't have Freedom! Just shoot us, with your a.k's.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  16. Cindy

    So why is Obama just going half way on this DADT thing? Who is going to be the one selecting which gay soldier gets to stay and which one doesn't? And what constitutes one being able to stay while the other getting kicked out? This just makes no sense what so ever to me.

    Once again this is just Obama kissing up to people and doing what he can to please both sides without really taking a stand on an issue.


    July 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm |