Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce the commencement of a year-long Pentagon study into how best to revise the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy concerning gay members of the military today before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Don’t ask don’t tell” essentially provides that gay service members keep their sexual orientation to themselves. If revealed, however inadvertently, they can be dismissed from the military. This announcement represents a significant step towards President Obama’s stated goal of eliminating the policy largely considered to be anti-gay. Gay rights’ activists are pleased with this development, while some high-ranking military officers have expressed concern about this decisive issue being raised.
Secretary Gates has indicated change should ensue slowly and carefully, as the lifting of the ban on openly gay military members would represent the biggest social change to the military since the 1948 executive order for the racial integration of military units. Still, change is likely to occur, as the study is premised on the idea that lifting the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy can be accomplished without compromising the military’s capabilities.