Pentagon tables 'keep mum' policy for gays


LOS ANGELES -- The Pentagon has shelved for now its new "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals, saying it was compelled by a U.S. District Court judge here to allow gay service members worldwide to serve openly without fear of punishment while the government appeals the injunction.

Gay rights leaders hailed the action yesterday, but urged gay service members to use caution in disclosing their homosexuality lest any action they take now be used against them later if the injunction is lifted by a higher court.

But the result is that Pentagon practice is now almost exactly what Bill Clinton pledged, as a candidate, he would make it.

a memorandum issued Oct. 1, the day the new policy was to have gone into effect, Assistant Defense Secretary Edwin Dorn ordered the military services to end all discharges or other adverse actions against any service members or recruit "based solely on his or her homosexual orientation or statements of homosexuality."

The order was issued a day after the judge, Terry J. Hatter Jr. of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, issued a sweeping order barring all branches of the military from discriminating against homosexuals "in the absence of proven sexual conduct -- if such conduct is proven to interfere with the military mission of the armed forces."

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