On March 13, 2007, Secretary of Defense Gates, in response to a question, offered the following statement about the policy: Question: What is your personal opinion of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military? Answer: Well, look, you know I think personal opinion really doesn't have a place here. What's important is that we have a law--a statue that governs "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." That's the policy of this department and it's my responsibility to execute that policy as effectively as we can. As long as the law is what it is, that's what we'll do.
As the Secretary noted, the Department of Defense must ensure that the standards for enlistment and appointment of members of the armed forces reflect the policies set forth by Congress.
The Department of Defense's Homosexual Conduct Policy implements Title 10 United States Code, Section 654. This provision requires the Department of Defense to separate from the armed forces members who engage in or attempt to engage in homosexual acts; state they are homosexual or bisexual; or marry or attempt to marry a person of the same biological sex.
These separated members have the opportunity to continue to serve their nation and national security by putting their abilities to use by way of civilian employment with other Federal agencies, the Department of Defense, or in the private sector, such as with a government contractor.
The law establishes the basis for separation from the armed forces as conduct not orientation. Our policy reflects the law, i.e., no military member is discharged due to his or her sexual orientation.
The DoD policy states that sexual orientation is a personal and private matter and is not a bar to military service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. Military applicants are not asked about sexual preference as part of processing into the armed forces. The policy also states that the services may not initiate investigations solely to determine a member's sexual orientation. Commanders may initiate an investigation only on receipt of credible information that a service member has engaged in homosexual conduct such as stating his/her homosexuality, committing a homosexual act or entered into a homosexual marriage.
Harassment is not tolerated in any form within the Armed Forces. The Department of Defense is very much against a climate of harassment and the DoD has declared such behavior prejudicial to the good order, discipline and morale of its service members. Each of the services has issued clear policy statements against harassment. Commanders must understand the policy and enforce it fairly. Harassment of any kind is not acceptable in the U.S. Military. We are determined that the policy on homosexual conduct in the military be clearly understood and fairly enforced.
Military discharges based on the Pentagon's homosexual conduct policy make up a small fraction of unprogrammed separations. For example, such discharges represented 0.3 percent of overall discharges in Fiscal Year 2005 and should be viewed in that context.
In regard to comments made by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a March 12, 2007, interview, General Pace issued a statement on March 13 which reads as follows:
"Yesterday, during a wide ranging interview with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, I was asked if I think the current policy as codified in U.S. Code, generally referred to as "Don't Ask Don't Tell," should still hold.
"People have a wide range of opinions on this sensitive subject. The important thing to remember is that we have a policy in effect, and the Department of Defense has a statutory responsibility to implement that policy.
"I made two points in support of the policy during the interview. One, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" allows individuals to serve this nation; and two, it does not make a judgment about the morality of individual acts.
"In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct.
"I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views."