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Military recuriters now required to accept applications from gays and lesbians

posted 19 Oct 2010, 18:05 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Oct 2010, 19:27 ]

The Pentagon orders military service recruiters to accept applications from gays and lesbians, given a judge's decision to strike its ban on openly-serving homosexuals, allowing an Iraq war veteran, Daniel Choi who was discharged for his sexual preference, to re-enlist at a Manhattan recruiting station.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 19, 2010)  REUTERS - A federal judge formally refused on Tuesday (October 19) to let the Pentagon reinstate its ban on openly gay men and women in the U.S. military while it appeals her decision declaring its "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional.

A day after tentatively siding against the Obama administration, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued a written decision denying a government request to lift her own injunction barring further Pentagon enforcement of the ban.

But anticipating the unfavorable ruling on Tuesday, the Defense Department earlier in the day instructed its recruiters for the first time to start accepting applications from enlistees who acknowledge they are gay.

A former Iraq war veteran, Daniel Choi, who was discharged for revealing his sexual identity appeared on Tuesday at a recruiting station at New York's Times Square to re-enlist, and obtained an Army application.

"I told them that I was discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' that I'm gay and I intend to serve openly and honestly and they continued processing me and I'll be finished with it tomorrow," said Choi.

"I'm ready to serve my country and if people are judging their actions based on nervousness or fear, based on a political time table, then they might think twice about being a soldier that sacrifices based purely on the values," Choi said.

The crowd gathered around Choi's public re-enlistment was mixed on the controversial subject.

A New York City resident Melodie Fox believes that gays and lesbians serving openly will disrupt combat.

"I'm not against the homosexual lifestyle if that's something that they've chosen, but I don't think that should be interrupting a mission, you know what I mean? Your sex life interrupting a mission? You've got a mission, "said Fox. "Do this mission, come back, continue your life, you know."

"Why can't we have gay people if we have women on the force, armed forces? Why can't we have gay people there to?" countered Dardan Parllaku.

"It shouldn't be a problem if you're gay to be in the armed forces if you're letting women, anybody be on it. That's all I got to say," the New Yorker finished.

President Barack Obama has insisted he stands by his 2008 campaign pledge to end "don't ask, don't tell," but his administration had urged the judge to allow more time for a political remedy to the issue rather than a court-imposed one.

The Pentagon also has argued that an abrupt change in the 17-year-old policy, enacted into law under then-President Bill Clinton, would hamper the military.

The legal limbo has put the U.S. military in an awkward situation: it is telling its forces not to "change their behavior" while the appeals process takes its course, while at the same time saying openly serving homosexuals must be treated the same as anyone else.

The debate comes at a tough time for Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress who need support from the gay community, a key constituency, as they fight to hold off a possible Republican rout in the Nov. 2 elections.

Republicans, many of whom fiercely oppose gays serving openly in the military, are seen as gaining from any hot-button social issues they can use to galvanize their conservative base at the polls.