US military now accepts gay applicants: Pentagon

The US military is now accepting gay recruits in the armed forces, a spokeswoman has said after a federal judge struck down a ban on homosexuals serving openly in uniform.

Washington: The US military is now accepting gay recruits in the armed forces, a spokeswoman has said after a federal judge struck down a ban on homosexuals serving
openly in uniform.

But the military will tell potential recruits that a law barring openly gay members -- known as "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" -- could still be reinstated depending on the outcome of
pending court decisions, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said yesterday.

"Recruiters have been given guidance, and they will process applications for applicants who admit they are openly gay or lesbian," she told a news agency.

"Recruiters are reminded to set the applicants` expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court`s decision of the "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" law/policy may occur,"
she said in an email.

A federal judge in California, Virginia Phillips, last week ordered the government to immediately suspend the rule, which requires gay troops to keep quiet about their sexual
orientation or face expulsion.

The Justice Department has applied for a stay that would suspend the legal order until an expected appeal can be heard.

An advocacy group for gay service members warned those in the military and those considering joining to refrain from revealing their sexual orientation until the matter is fully resolved in the courts.

"During this interim period of uncertainty, service members must not come out and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up," Service Members Legal Defence Fund
(SLDN) chief Aubrey Sarvis.

"The `Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell` law is rooted in any statement of homosexuality made at anytime and to anyone. A higher court is likely to issue a hold on the injunction by
Judge Phillips very soon," Sarvis said in a statement.

"The bottom line: if you come out now, it can be used
against you in the future by the Pentagon."

Although President Barack Obama has called for scrapping
the 1993 law and tried to persuade Congress to end the ban,
the court order has put his administration in a bind as it
tries to carry out a review of the issue.

Obama had ordered a year-long review of how ending the
ban would affect military readiness, effectiveness and unit
cohesion, which is due to be completed on December 1.

In a memo sent out last week to secretaries of the US
Army, Navy and Air Force, Under Secretary of Defence for
Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley said the Defence
Department "will abide by the terms of the injunction" from
the federal judge.

PTI

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