A military spokesperson says openly gay people can be recruited. But only for now, while an injunction barring Don't Ask, Don't Tell's enforcement holds. But at least one discharged servicemember who tried to re-enlist has been turned away. Confused yet?
Everyone is confused. But for now, the Department of Defense could potentially be in contempt of court if they defy the injunction imposed by Judge Virginia Phillips, who indicated yesterday that she most likely would not stay it pending the Justice Department's appeal. What that means is that you can be gay in the military now, but that information could still be used against you in the near future.
Discharges have been frozen, and recruits are allowed to volunteer that they're gay and still enlist, but they have to be told that they could be incriminating themselves. So far, either the message is slow in getting out there, or people are still confused:
After Phillips' ruling last week, Omar Lopez - discharged from the Navy in 2006 after admitting his gay status to his military doctor - walked into an Army recruiting office in Austin and asked if he could re-enlist. He said he was up front, even showing the recruiters his Navy discharge papers.
Lopez told the AP that the recruiters were "courteous and apologetic, but they couldn't help me" because they said they hadn't yet been given top-line instructions. Now that they have, we'll see how many people will take the obvious risk of self-identifying, whether at recruitment or in current service. For now, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is urging caution:
"During this interim period of uncertainty, service members must not come out and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up. 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. The bottom line: if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon. As the DOJ fights to keep this unconstitutional and oppressive law, we are monitoring active-duty clients' cases and fielding calls every day to our hotline. Given the uncertainty in the courts, we urge the Senate to act swiftly next month on repeal when they return to Washington."