Conflict & Justice

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" set to run out

The U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gay service members is set to run out at midnight on Monday.

As of September 20, gay service members will be able to be open about their sexual orientation, and recruiters will begin accepting openly gay and lesbian applicants seeking to enlist.

"The department is ready for repeal," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement.

According to the Pentagon, nearly all service members have been through training associated with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

“No one should be left with the impression that we are unprepared. We are prepared for repeal,” Little said. “The force is well aware that this is coming. They’ve had the training. It’s been in the press for months. The September 20th day is not a mystery.”

Reuters reports that more than 13,000 gay and lesbian troops have been expelled from the military since President Bill Clinton signed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law in 1993. President Barack Obama signed a repeal of the law in December 2010.

On Monday, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, sent a letter to generals saying "[w]e are ready for this change."

“We expect all personnel to follow our values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance,” Odierno wrote, according to The Washington Post. “It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect.”

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently weighing whether to affirm or overturn a lower court's decision that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in unconstitutional.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to discuss the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference.