WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives are calling for a delay in lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the US military, saying new rules have not yet been made available.
A letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta from House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon and Joe Wilson, who chairs a subcommittee, said President Barack Obama’s administration has failed to provide details about the new regulations that repeal the former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“Committee officials have requested, but not received, copies of the revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits, that will take effect upon repeal,” the letter said.
This “leads us to conclude that decisions on the policies and regulations to implement repeal are not complete and that your certification and those of the others were inaccurate,” the two lawmakers said in the letter dated September 12, eight days before the new policy takes effect.
They noted that Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had certified on July 22 that the Department of Defense had prepared the necessary policies and regulations to repeal the ban.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” required gay troops to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion from the forces. An estimated 14,000 service members have been kicked out of the military under the rule.
Amid a fierce political debate, the ban was overturned in a law adopted in December that first required the top military officer, the defense secretary and the president to certify that the change would not harm military readiness and that the armed forces were ready to carry it out.
In the interim, the Pentagon has drawn up new manuals and prepared the entire armed forces, some 2.3 million people who serve as both active troops and reservists, for the new policy.
But the letter said the actions are not yet complete for the September 20 implementation.
“Since it is evident that the department does not have final, approved polices in place, we believe it is essential that you take immediate action to delay the implementation of repeal,” the two congressmen said.