According to Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic magazine, being openly gay will no longer get you turned away from the U.S. military. "As of today," he writes, "one can walk into a military recruitment office with one's same-sex partner, fill out forms, and get the process started." But take note, hopeful homos: if the phone calls we just made are any indication, this watershed moment in American social, political and military history has yet to trickle down to the local tributaries.
"It's business as usual," said a recruiting officer at the Army's 5th and Northgate location. "We don't ask and we don't process anyone who says they have that kind of preference."
As in all good bureaucracies, it appears that the foot soldiers are still awaiting orders from their superiors. Those would be the fine folks at the Department of Defense, who thus far haven't returned our call.
"We know there's talk," the recruiter went on. "But it'll take a while before it effects us."
And even assuming that change happens soon, Ambinder warns that openly gay enrollees will face a number of potentially hazardous caveats.
One is that the guidance given to recruiters is based on the status of legal process, and that gay recruits are being told that if the ban on gays in the military is upheld, their status might be revoked in the future. Two: in the Navy, at least, recruits are being processed on "delayed entry" status, which places them on inactive reserve status for up to a year.
Three, each service branch is applying the guidance, which was offered by the Pentagon's general counsel, differently.
Four, this does not mean that it is safe for gay soldiers to come out. Indeed, if they do, and a stay is enforced or the case is thrown out, they can be held responsible for their declarations during this intermediary period.
Translation: if you're gay, inclined to share that information with others and want to serve, you might be best served waiting this one out.