The following editorial appeared in Friday's Los Angeles Times:
Everyone at command level in the military is taught that all orders must be clearly understood and not open to misinterpretation. That imperative seems never to have been applied to the ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy on homosexuals in the armed services that was adopted in 1994. Surveys indicate that many troops get little or no indoctrination on the meaning and purposes of the policy and that commanders have enforced it inconsistently and sometimes indifferently. The result has often been confusion and even deliberate violations of the policy. It took the beating murder of a homosexual soldier by another recruit at Fort Campbell, Ky., six months ago to highlight these weaknesses.
New rules announced by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen should buttress the policy on gays. All military personnel, from recruits through senior officers, are to be instructed that taunting homosexuals won't be permitted. Neither will frivolous investigation of suspected gays. If someone complains of being harassed because of his or her sexual orientation, it is the harassment that will be investigated, not the possible homosexuality of the complainant.
Homosexuals in uniform are asked to keep their sexual orientation private. So long as they do, it is no one else's business. The Army has already begun training on the meaning of the policy. It properly emphasizes ''zero tolerance for harassment,'' including derogatory remarks and annoying behavior. And commanders, who have sometimes been inexcusably lax in enforcing the policy, are being firmly reminded that harassers must be held accountable.
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