Gays Allowed to Enter the Military

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As of today, being openly gay won't get you turned away from the U.S. military. The Department of Defense has issued high-level guidance instructing military recruiters to accept openly gay applicants.

That's the headline, and it's a big one, but there are big caveats, too. One is that the guidance given to recruiters is based on the status of legal process, and that gay recruits are being told that if the ban on gays in the military is upheld, their status might be revoked in the future.

Two: in the Navy, at least, recruits are being processed on "delayed entry" status, which places them on inactive reserve status for up to a year.

Three: each service branch is applying the guidance, which was offered by the Pentagon's general counsel, differently. 

Four: this does not mean that it is safe for gay soldiers to come out. Indeed, if they do, and a stay is enforced or the case striking down the law is thrown out, they can be held responsible for their declarations during this intermediary period. Still -- today is a point of demarcation.

As of today, one can walk into a military recruitment office with one's same-sex partner, fill out forms, and get the process started.

Pressure to take this step did not come from the White House. The decision was the Pentagon's, and, presumably, it was approved by the Secretary of Defense.

The Pentagon cannot therefore complain that THIS step is somehow imposed upon them by the Court or by the legislative process because it is a result of their interpretation of a judge's ruling.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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