'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' not Working, Report Charges

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: A report from the Washington-based Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, claims that the military is investigating troops sexual orientation more often and more openly since the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was enacted in 1994. In some cases, the report alleges, the military goes so far as to question parents, friends and therapists of servicemen suspected of being gay. A compromise between President Clinton, Congress and the military, the law is a watered-down version of Clinton's initial goal which has not satisfied gay activists. The Pentagon, traditionally advocating military regulation barring gay servicemen, grudgingly accepts the policy since it in effect allows the military to continue dismissing gays. "The law is very fuzzy, subjective and subject to interpretation", says TIME's Mark Thompson, "and it is adhered to more tightly by some than others." Although the report notes that discharges of gay servicemen increased 17 percent in the first full year since the policy took effect in 1994, Thompson says that may be a statistical fluctuation. "The overall number of servicemen discharged from the military for sexual orientation has been halved in the past 10 to 15 years, from about 1,000 a year to 500 a year."