A Pentagon spokeswoman said Tuesday that military recruiters are being told to accept openly gay and lesbian applicants following a court decision that struck down the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“Recruiters have been given guidance, and they will process applications for applicants who admit they are openly gay or lesbian,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in an e-mail to reporters.
The move came after U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips issued an injunction last week that suspended the military’s policy that bars openly gay service members. Phillips ruled that the policy “infringes the fundamental rights” of service members. The Justice Department has appealed the injunction, but Phillips signaled Monday that she may deny its request.
Despite the step forward in their cause, gay rights groups are cautioning gay and lesbian service members against coming out, given the likelihood that a higher court will issue a hold on the injunction soon.
“During this interim period of uncertainty, service members must not come out, and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
Sarvis said the bottom line is that Congress needs to repeal the law, because “if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon.” The Senate is poised to take up a Defense authorization bill in the lame-duck session that includes a “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal.