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'De facto moratorium' on DADT discharges, but commanders may not know

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer
  • Injunction tells military to stop proceedings under policy
  • Pentagon says there is a "de factor moratorium"
  • Commanders have not yet been given new directions, spokesman said

Washington (CNN) -- Two days after a federal judge in California issued an injunction, telling the U.S. military to "immediately... suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'," the Department of Defense still hasn't told commanders in the field who handle the DADT investigations what to do.

"We are still in the process of reviewing, still awaiting Justice decisions," Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters Thursday. "The General Counsel's office (at DOD) and the Department of Justice are looking at the injunction and trying to make those legal determinations."

When asked is there was a "de facto moratorium" on DADT discharges by the military, Lapan said "yes" but he went on to say that the moratorium is the result of the judge's injunction.

As for what commanders in the field are supposed to do, Lapan said, "We give a lot of authority and responsibility to our commanders to make the best decisions possible. It's obviously well-known that the injunction was issued and that we'd anticipate that commanders use judgment until they receive further guidance."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is currently traveling oversees, but Lapan said that had no impact on the Pentagon's reaction to the judge's injunction.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy, enacted under President Clinton in 1993, bars openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from serving in the U.S. military, but prevents the military from asking a service member's sexual orientation. It has been a political lightning rod since its implementation.

In February, Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon had taken the first steps toward repealing the policy. He said at the time that in the interim, the Defense Department would start enforcing the policy "in a fairer manner."