– The Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is scheduled to announce today that it will relax enforcement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rules that prevent gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, a decision that officials described as a temporary measure until Congress can take permanent action.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce that the military will no longer investigate the sexual orientation of service members based on anonymous complaints, will restrict testimony from third parties and will require high-ranking officers to review all cases, sources said.

Gates had asked Pentagon lawyers to review whether the Defense Department had the legal discretion to enforce the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law more loosely after President Barack Obama urged its repeal in his State of the Union address.

The law was enacted in 1993 after military leaders resisted attempts by President Bill Clinton to integrate gay men and lesbians into the armed forces. Under the compromise legislation, gays are allowed as long as they hide their orientation.

Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee on Feb. 2 that they agreed with Obama and would take steps to prepare the military for the eventual repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Gates has assigned Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of the U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief legal counsel, to issue recommendations by Dec. 1 on how to integrate the armed forces. Among the issues they will have to sort out are same-sex marriage and barracks cohabitation.

The Pentagon is moving ahead on the assumption that Congress will overturn the ban.

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