Questions and answers on President Clinton's new policy concerning gays in the military:
Question: Will homosexuals be permitted to join a branch of the military service?
Answer: Yes, because the services will no longer be allowed to question recruits about their sexual orientation.
Q: Will homosexual conduct continue to be a crime under military law and, if so, what is the definition of that crime?
A: Yes, homosexual conduct remains a crime, punishable by discharge. The policy defines homosexual conduct as "a homosexual act, a statement by the individual that demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts, or a homosexual marriage or attempted marriage." Homosexual acts include hand-holding, kissing and other forms of erotic "bodily contact" between persons of the same sex.
Q: Who determines if rules have been broken?
A: Unit commanders are the only ones who can institute an investigation. The commander may order military investigative services to investigate a person's conduct if there is "credible information" of probable violation of the regulations.
Q: Are there restrictions on a commander's right to order an investigation?
A: Yes. The guidelines prohibit commanders from initiating investigations solely to determine a member's sexual orientation. However, commanders will continue to have the authority to investigate evidence of homosexual conduct. The guidelines say that commanders should not open an investigation because of "a mere allegation" by another service member, although they should evaluate "credible information" of homosexual conduct, regardless of the source.
Q: What sort of information is considered credible?
A: According to the Pentagon guidelines, "credible information of homosexual conduct exists when the information, considered in light of its source and all attendant circumstances, supports a reasonable belief that a service member has engaged in such conduct. It requires a determination based on articulable facts, not just a belief or suspicion."
Q: Will individuals be discharged just for saying they are gay?
A: Probably. The guidelines create a "rebuttable presumption" that a person who declares homosexuality has a propensity to commit illegal acts. The person will be given a chance to prove that he has not engaged in homosexual acts, but his own original statement will weigh heavily.
Q: Do the guidelines permit homosexual conduct off base and in civilian clothing?
A: No. The policy describes military service as "a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week" job.
Q: Will individuals be discharged for drinking in a gay bar, associating with known homosexuals, reading gay literature or marching in a gay rights parade in civilian clothes?
A: No, provided the person does not engage in prohibited conduct in connection with those activities.
Q: Will an individual be subject to discharge for declaring someone of the same sex as insurance beneficiary or as the person to be contacted in case of emergency?