Sec. of Defense Robert Gates announced a few changes in DADT enforcement that would make discharging someone from the military for being LGB harder.
While some LGBT bloggers are scoffing at the changes, any attempt to reduce the number of DADT discharges should be welcome by anyone actually seeking to improve the circumstances under which LGB servicemembers work. It's unnerving to see people talk as if these policy changes do nothing at all, as if the fact that fewer people will have their careers ruined is meaningless (which makes me wonder why they care so much about DADT repeal in the first place). No one's saying that the government should stop here - there's just a difference between saying "this is inadequate but positive" and "this is too little to count."
Making the perfect - and full DADT repeal by itself isn't the perfect solution, either - the enemy of the good is a luxury of people who aren't directly affected by this policy, but who are still emotionally invested in seeing it repealed. It makes it seem like they consider removing DADT as a symbol of exclusion and inferiority is more important to them than actually improving the lives of LGB servicemembers, which requires a certain level of frivolousness.
Is the goal "equality" in some abstract sense of the term, in that we can turn on the TV and see that people think we're the same as everyone else, or is the goal to materially improve LGBT people's lives? That's not just a question for DADT, but for our movement as a whole.
The most significant change to the policy will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to initiate an inquiry or separation proceeding regarding the DADT policy to a general or flag officer in the servicemember's chain of command.[...]
What constitutes ''credible information'' to initiate separation proceedings under DADT. Specifically, the revised policy requires a ''reliable person'' to provide the information that he or she is presenting to the military under oath. Previously, that information did not need to be made under oath.
Certain types of confidential information cannot be used for purposes of DADT discharge proceedings, including lawyer-client privilege, communications to clergy, psychotherapist-patient privilege, information provided by a servicemember to a medical professional, or information provided in the course of seeking professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse.
This moves these discharges significantly up the military ladder, and, in the US's largest bureaucracy, that could mean that a lot of these charges just die as they're put in the hands of folks who have serious careers to protect and lots of other work on their plate to get to.
Also, the goal is to reduce third party outings, which would also mean that there'd be fewer discharges. People will have to go under oath to out another servicemember? That would put some scrutiny on people making accusations instead of all the scrutiny being on the LGB person, meaning that outing someone else would no longer be risk-free.
At the press conference the Pentagon's general counsel was asked about what happens in situations where invalid evidence leads to valid evidence, to which he responded: "That's a good question and we'll have to work that through."
Gates and Mullen discuss the suspiciously year-long study they need to finish before DADT can be repealed in this video (suspicious because it was started about a year before midterms and can't be sped up), but at least they're saying that the study is about how to repeal DADT, not whether it should be repealed or not:
Later, in response to a question from Kerry Eleveld as to whether the study is looking at whether to implement repeal or how to implement it, Gates did say "the study is about how you would implement it...the study is not about should we do it. The study is about how would we do it." That's helpful because GOPers on the Hill have spun this study into a "whether" DADT should be repealed, which is not the case.
Update: The White House sends along this statement:
"Today's announcement follows the powerful testimony by Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen in February. The President has been clear in his call for Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He appreciates the hard work by Secretary Gates to make the implementation of the current law fairer and more appropriate, as well as the broader efforts to prepare for implementation of any Congressional repeal. He is grateful to the Secretary, Chairman Mullen and the Service Chiefs for their leadership in developing and swiftly implementing the revised regulations announced today. "