In a dramatic reversal of a decades-long practice, the Pentagon announced on Oct. 19 that it will start processing applications of candidates for service who admit to being gay.
The move comes as a result of the recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, which stated that the "don't ask, don't tell" act — passed by Congress in 1993 — is unConstitutional. She also issued an injunction against its enforcement.
Douglas Smith, spokesman for United States Army Recruiting Command based at Fort Knox, Ky., said that "[we are] going to follow the law, whatever the law is at the time," quoted by The Associated Press.
However, due to the uncertainty over the duration of the injunction, which is being fueled by the expectation that the Federal government will appeal it, legal experts have warned candidates to exercise caution when enlisting.
"During this interim period, servicemembers must not come out and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up," said executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Aubrey Sarvis.
"The bottom line [is] if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon," he added.
Among the first former servicemembers to try to re-enlist was Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran, West Point graduate and Arabic speaker, who was discharged under "don't ask, don't tell."