The government policy on gays in the military is "Don't ask, don't tell." But with the latest release of statistics from the Air Force on Friday showing that 414 people were discharged last year for being gay -- the highest number since the policy was instituted in 1994 -- critics are charging that the military's policy really is "Watch what we do, not what we say."
TIME writer-reporter John Cloud believes the numbers reveal that "the Pentagon as an institution isn't behind the policy." Implementation, he says, "largely depends on the commitment of the commanding officer. The situation is one in which the commander-in-chief is largely powerless to enforce his own policy." Though the discharge numbers are up -- and something of an embarrassment for the Pentagon -- the new policy has improved the situation for gays in one significant way: "Homosexuals no longer get a dishonorable discharge when they leave," says Cloud. "That means they get to keep their benefits."