January 20, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Marcia Franklin talks with Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach of Mountain Home Air Force Base, whose challenge of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy regarding gays in the military was one of the centerpieces of the debate on the issue.

Now that DADT has been effectively repealed, what's next for Fehrenbach and other gays serving in the military? What changed lawmakers' minds about lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. armed forces? Will the repeal hurt morale in the military?

Fehrenbach, who has served in the U.S. Air Force since 1991, has deployed six times in support of seven major combat operations, including missions over Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, nine Air Medals - including an Air Medal for Heroism - and five Air Force Commendation Medals.

In May of 2008, Fehrenbach discovered that he had been "outed" by a civilian and that the Air Force was seeking to terminate him under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He decided to fight his discharge and then go public about his situation. His case added to the national discussion on the issue, with newly elected President Barack Obama saying he wanted to repeal DADT.

On Dec. 15 of last year the U.S. House passed a repeal bill, and three days later the Senate also passed the legislation. President Obama signed the bill the following week.

However, under the new law, the president, the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff must, among other measures, certify that they have drafted repeal regulations that don't harm military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. Once that certification is given, a 60-day waiting period will begin before DADT is formally repealed.