Gays Say Donít Rely on Donít Ask, Donít Tell

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The Pentagon once again last week had to defend its ďDonít ask, donít tellĒ policy. It was implemented in 1994, after a debate between the White House, which wanted to let gays serve openly, and Congress and the military, which did not. The compromise ostensibly protected gays in uniform so long as they didnít flaunt their sexual orientation. But the number of personnel kicked out of the service for being gay soared from 617 in 1994 to 997 last year. The Pentagon says that 80 percent of those removed in 1997 declared their homosexuality; they "told." Gay-rights groups instead pointed to witch-hunts by overly zealous officers. Defense Secretary William Cohen apparently thinks they have a point, and he is expected to approve new guidelines shortly to ensure that the policy is implemented fairly. Commanders will have to get permission to investigate from military legal authorities. Also, inducements for implicating others in gay relationships will not be so easily offered, and soldiers who harass their fellows by calling them gay will be punished.