Court Gives Pentagon Go-Ahead on Clinton's `Don't Ask' Gay Policy

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton's compromise policy on gays in the armed forces can go into effect while its constitutionality is being challenged, the Supreme Court decided Friday.

In a one-paragraph order, the justices suspended a Los Angeles judge's sweeping, nationwide ban on all discrimination against homosexuals in military service.

The Pentagon had requested the suspension, arguing that U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. had exceeded his authority and that the ban interfered with military management and discipline.

The decision allows the Pentagon to introduce a new presidential policy that has been dubbed "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue." The policy, the result of a compromise with Congress and the Pentagon, professes to punish only homosexual conduct, not homosexual status.

The policy would prevent recruits from being asked about their sexual orientation. But it would allow those who openly acknowledge their homosexuality to be dismissed, unless they can show that they don't engage in homosexual acts and have no intent or propensity to do so.

Defense Secretary Les Aspin said he was pleased and hoped to have the new policy in place soon.

Peri Jude Radecic, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, "We are disappointed. The military has been without a gay (policy) for close to a month with no adverse effects. Gays and lesbians serve their country very well."

Until the new policy is in place, an interim policy introduced in January has been reinstated, Pentagon officials said. …