Three months on, ‘don’t ask’ repeal gets mixed review

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Three months after President Obama lifted the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, Pentagon officials say heterosexual troops are adjusting well to the new policy.

Critics, however, say they are just following orders, and a recent survey showed many troops reporting a rise in tension.

On the Joint Chiefs of Staff, even the most outspoken opponent of lifting the ban said he is satisfied with the progress so far.

“I’m very pleased with how it has gone,” Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, told reporters on a recent trip to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops.

He said he heard little from Marines about serving with openly gay troops, even though a Defense Department survey before the Sept. 20 repeal showed Marines were the most opposed to the change, compared with the other three branches of the military.

The policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” was adopted during the administration of President Clinton to allow gay troops to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation private.

“The Marine Corps faithfully and willingly carried out the intent of our commander-in-chief and civilian leadership in preparing for repeal,” Gen. Amos said.

“All Marines, sailors and civilian Marines, regardless of sexual orientation, are Marines first. Every Marine is a valued member of our war-fighting team.”

He said Marines are expected to treat each other with “dignity and respect” and “faithfully uphold the law.”

“The Marine Corps has been, and will continue to be, America’s Expeditionary Force in Readiness — ready to respond to today’s crisis, with today’s Marine forces, today,” Gen. Amos said.

A recent survey by the Military Times newspaper, however, showed a rise in tensions in units with troops who declared themselves to be gay.

The online poll from Sept. 26 to Oct. 11 found that 26 percent of the newspaper’s active-duty readers reported higher stress levels working with openly gay colleagues.

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness said most troops are just following orders, regardless of how they feel personally about serving with gay colleagues.

“Official claims that implementation is going well are self-serving and premature. Obeying orders is standard procedure. No one expected anything else,” she said.

“Still, the Department of Defense does not know what it is doing. Legally required regulations have not been submitted to Congress, and there are no metrics or mechanisms for tracking data on sexual orientation.

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