Army recruiters are shredding my enlistment papers, despite no official recruiting policy change.
I am now in the same recruiting category as those applicants who did not graduate high school. Unqualified status.
Despite no official notice of a change in policy from last week (when all Don't Ask, Don't Tell procedures were suspended) army recruiters have seemingly decided they can now reject gay and lesbian applicants again. This presumably in accordance with the stay issued Wednesday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, suspending Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is unconstitutional.
Said stay is in effect until at least Monday, when the Ninth Circuit will accept a brief from Log Cabin Republicans, the plaintiffs in the case. LCR will argue that a permanent stay pending a full appeal hearing should not be granted, and the Ninth will subsequently make a decision whether to extend the stay or not.
Should the stay not be extended, I for one expect Dan Choi to once again march down to a recruiting office and attempt to serve his country despite his country's second rejection of him. (Dan Choi was discharged because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in July, 2010).
Meanwhile, the Department of Defense has announced a new policy regarding who has the authority to authorize discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a memo Thursday stipulating that "don't ask, don't tell" discharges could be processed only if they received the "personal approval" of the secretary of the corresponding department in consultation with the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Military Readiness and the general counsel of the Department of Defense.
Given the "legally uncertain" environment, a senior defense official who is also a lawyer explained to reporters, "We wanted the separation authority in the hands of fewer people ... who are on top of the situation legally as it is developing." ...
The Defense official said he could not predict whether the new policy would reduce the number of discharges under "don't ask, don't tell" and a second senior-level official added that the move was "not designed" to constrain separations. Instead, the first official stressed, the new guidance was intended "to ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of this law," as stated in Gates's memo.
"The law is in effect," the first official told reporters. "That is not intended to be a substantive change in the decision making -- you should not interpret that as, we're going to separate more or less individuals."
No one has any idea what this really means; people are interpreting this move in the context of what they would like it to mean. Some people feel it is meaningless -- a way to seem like steps are being taken while deck chairs are simply being shuffled -- while others, like Andrew Sullivan, are encouraged:
But this is a real step in the right direction, and many of us are deeply encouraged by it.
My own opinion is that this directive means nothing until we see if a different directive is issued if (and likely when) the Ninth Circuit issues a permanent stay. If at that point this new policy persists, allowing only a few very busy individuals -- who presumably have better things to do -- to authorize discharges, then it might signify progress. And while I'm sure they will discharge some individuals just 'because', the number of discharges may slow down and eventually wither away to almost nothing if a time-delayed repeal process is put in place. But we will know nothing substantial for weeks or months.
In other news, today at 5:00 PM is the deadline for
scumbag extraordinaire the Attorney General of Florida, Bill McCollum, to decide whether he will appeal the decision that Florida's law prohibiting adoptions by homosexuals is unconstitutional. The Governor, Charlie Crist, has said he doesn't want the state to appeal, and the defendent, Florida's State Adoption Agency, will not appeal. Yet McCollum is still undecided:
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, McCollum's office wasn't showing his hand. A spokeswoman, Ryan Wiggins, said the office had no information to give out about McCollum's decision.
A source close to inner-circle conversations said McCollum has wavered about what to do.
Think of the children!
And if you thought President Obama was being obstinate about Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the face of continued criticism, public opinion, and unfavorable court decisions, he's got nothing on the Prime Minister of Australia.
Despite polling showing that the majority of Australians favor marriage equality -- 62% in favor in the latest poll -- despite the vast majority of Australians believing that members of Parliament should vote their conscience on the issue -- 78% in the latest poll -- Prime Minister Billard continues to insist that she will not allow a 'conscience vote' on marriage equality and that she has no intention of changing her party's position on the matter: that the status quo, marriage only between a man and a woman, should remain.
This might not be surprising if you thought her party was the more conservative of Australian's political parties. But no, the Labor party is not that party. Mr. Wilkie, an independent MP who provided crucial support to Ms. Guillard last month when she was attempting to form a government said:
"It's virtually unexplainable how the prime minister can be so prepared, so consistently, to be out of step with the will of the people..."