DADT repealed -- now what?

Tuesday - 12/21/2010, 5:40pm EST

Jeremy Johnson, former Navy Petty Officer First-Class

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This week President Obama signed into law the repeal of the Defense Department's 17-year-old Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that banned gays or lesbians from serving openly in the military. But the repeal won't take effect immediately.

During a 60-day waiting period before the policy is overturned, gays serving in the military should "hold their tongue, so to speak," said Jeremy Johnson, a former Navy Petty Officer First-Class, works with public policy think tank Palm Center, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

Johnson added, "It's not something that's a grave threat to them where their career is concerned. It's something they want to be wary of and not cause issues where they don't need to."

Implementation of the repeal will be easier than most people think, Johnson said.

"The changes in and of themselves are not that complicated. I think you have the perception that the changes will be complicated," Johnson said.

He estimated that training could be done in weeks. Such training will address fears of some servicemembers concerned about the new policy's effect on their religious freedoms.

"I think once people see directly from their chain of command, directly from their leadership, what these recommendations are and how they will be implemented in those training sessions, I think a lot of those fears will be allayed," Johnson said.

Although training could be accomplished quickly, the 60-day waiting period is in place as a compromise from "supporters who had a more conservative stance" who wanted to provide more time in case there were recommendations in the Pentagon report that would take time to implement.

Given the "simple changes" in the study, Johnson said, "We don't feel like there's any reason why they couldn't take this on board quickly and effectively."

The biggest challenge in implementing the repeal of DADT will be getting the leadership on board, Johnson said.

"We maintain this is from a leadership-down issue, not from the ground troops up," he said.