After a U.S. District judge refused to budge on overturning "Don't ask, don't tell," the Pentagon has ordered military recruiters to accept application from openly gay Americans. President Obama has said DADT "will end on my watch," but he wants to wait for a report from the military on the implications of ending the ban. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is expected to appeal the ruling by California Judge Virginia Phillips. So, given the conflicting agendas, where do things really stand? (Watch an AP report about the decision)
Behind the headlines are important caveats: This hardly settles the matter, says Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic. The military is warning gay recruits that "their status might be revoked" at any time. And different branches of the armed forces are adopting different rules — the Navy, for example, is putting these new enlistees on "delayed entry" status, meaning they will remain inactive reserves for a year while the court case moves forward. Obviously, it is not yet "safe for gay soldiers to come out."
"Gays allowed to enter the military"
"Don't ask, don't tell" is dead: The Pentagon can "hedge" all it wants, says Logan Penza at The Moderate Voice, but "this is the final end of DADT." We have been marching toward this point for years, and the political coalition defending "Don't ask, don't tell" — already a "brittle eggshell" — is bound to crumble now. If the Pentagon changes its mind down the road, it will face a legal nightmare if it tries kicking out the gay soldiers it now is inviting to serve.
"End of DADT"
The judge left gays in "legal limbo": Given that the Supreme Court could reverse Judge Phillips' decision, she has just created a mess, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. She probably figured she could unilaterally declare an end to the ban on gays serving openly in the military, because the appeals could take a few years and the military may decide to let gays in by then. But all Phillips really did was push openly gay recruits into "legal limbo."
"Pentagon to military recruiters: For now, you must accept openly gay recruits"
Don't expect gay recruits to miss this opportunity: This ruling has changed things already, say the editors of Queerty. Dan Choi, the gay activist and former Army lieutenant, has reportedly reenlisted, leading the way for other troops discharged under "Don't ask, don't tell" who now plan to rejoin. "Good luck to all the other gay soldiers trying to re-enlist."
"Dan Choi wasn't told he's overqualified for service"
Gays should not rush to enlist: Don't expect openly gay Americans to jump at this "strange option," says Ann Althouse at her blog. If the courts reverse course, the military could "kick you right back out again. You'll have given them the evidence to do it." For the time being, gay recruits might still be wise to "not tell" instead of being honest — just in case.
"Pentagon tells recruiters they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruits..."