WASHINGTON – As the Obama administration moves to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, the Pentagon is still grappling with major questions about how it will integrate gay and lesbian service members into the ranks.
President Barack Obama notified Congress on Friday that the ban would be abolished Sept. 20 and said that it could be done without harming the military’s readiness. Congress required the certification when it voted last December to repeal the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“As commander in chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness,” Obama said in a statement.
Issues remain about extending benefits to gays and lesbians, same-sex housing and how the military will resolve discrimination complaints by gay service members.
Marine Maj. Gen. Steve Hummer, who leads the Pentagon’s repeal team, said Friday that 1.9 million service members – more than half the military’s active duty and reserve force – have completed anti-harassment training since March. Most of the rest, he said, are likely to complete the training by the end of September, he said.