CAMP HENRY, South Korea -- The United States military senior leaders continue the push on efforts to phase in the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy that allows gays to serve openly in the military.
All U.S. military branches have to complete the DADT training before the end of the summer. Although the repeal doesn’t go into effect until 60 days after the president, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff declare that the repeal will not harm the military’s readiness.
Servicemembers in all branches kicked off their sensitivity training as they participated in introductory training modules explaining the repeal.
Capt. Mitchell Herniak, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Trial Defense counselor, said, “The training focuses on the fact that sexual orientation should not be a basis for official actions or a factor in decision-making.”
The appeal will prohibit United States military personnel from discriminating against or harassing open or closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants.
Although the military is repealing the policy, same sex marriages still will not be accepted which is mandated by Defense Marriage Act 1 United States Code Section 7. This law states that marriage is a legal union of a man and a woman. Also, according to the Joint Federal Travel regulation, same sex partners will not be recognized as dependents.
“Homosexual Soldiers that may want to live as a married couple will not be able to claim their partner legally as their dependent,” said Herniak. “This may affect cases, like here in Korea, where they wouldn’t be able to apply for command sponsorship.”
Additional policies that will not be affected by the upcoming policy change are sexual harassment, fraternization, and equal opportunity.
The repeal will lift some limitations Army-wide for gay and bi-sexual Soldiers, but the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps policies will sustain. Although there are more than 230 faith groups in the Chaplain Corps, divided by religion, tradition, and denomination, some chaplains may not be able to directly perform pastoral acts that may be requested as a result of the repeal due to their obligations to the clergy.
“The Chaplain Corps’ mission is to ‘Perform or Provide,’” said Master Sgt. John Proctor, the 19th ESC Chaplain noncommissioned officer in charge.
“Our chaplains can either perform the duties that are authorized by our clergy endorsing bodies or we can provide the Soldier with someone else who can,” said Proctor.
“The demographics for this population [self-described homosexuals] is very small. I believe the military will be able to continue to provide religious support and chaplain services for everyone who serves.”
As the military migrates to its new culture, U.S. Army leaders continue to stress the Army value teachings.
“If leaders continue to uphold the Army values and emphasize leadership, professionalism, discipline, and respect…then we shouldn’t expect to see many changes. Whatever is considered within the bounds of decency for a heterosexual person should be the same for a homosexual,” said Herniak.
Tier 1 training began for key personnel April 15. The training continues for two more tier level training modes.
Tier 2 is for commanders and supervisors and Tier 3 is for Soldiers and civilians. All servicemembers should be trained by the end of this summer. For more information on the repeal, look up Title 10 U.S.C. § 654.