What Repeal Will Mean

By Conant, Eve | Newsweek, December 13, 2010 | Go to article overview

What Repeal Will Mean


Conant, Eve, Newsweek


Byline: Eve Conant

Congress now faces unprecedented pressure to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." The Pentagon released its report on the issue last week, finding that 70 percent of troops thought repeal would have mixed, positive, or no effect on the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged the Senate to act quickly, as did Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. But critics worry that the policy change could affect unit cohesion and be a distraction at a time of war. So it's worth asking: what would repeal really entail? A quick guide:

Chaplains would minister to gay and lesbian troops. Many chaplains vehemently oppose repeal and, in the report's words, "believe that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination, and that they are required by God to condemn it." But chaplains are also required to serve all troops. "They can still follow their consciences," says Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center, a UC Santa Barbara public-policy think tank. "They would counsel gays the same way a rabbi would counsel a Catholic."

Gay partners wouldn't have the same rights as spouses. The federal Defense of Marriage Act would deny gay military families such benefits as lower-cost housing. Why? The report says opening military housing to spouses who aren't legally recognized "would create occasions for abuse and unfairness." Benefits that would possibly extend to partners: free legal services, hospital visitations, missing-member notifications.

Gay sex would not be considered a crime. The Uniform Code of Military Justice would be altered to remove "private consensual sodomy between adults" as a criminal offense. …

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