WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) -- As U.S. lawmakers hold a hearing on repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a gay sailor facing discharge was told he could stay in the Navy.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Morado, 26, stationed at California's Naval Air Station Lemoore, 35 miles south of Fresno, was told Thursday a panel of two naval officers and a senior petty officer voted unanimously to retain him after meeting behind closed doors for 25 minutes.
Morado, who told The Fresno Bee he was "ecstatic," said the decision would be reviewed by the U.S. Bureau of Naval Personnel's Navy Personnel Command to make sure all paperwork was handled correctly. He said he expected no problems would be found.
His lawyer told the panel the upcoming repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" made it unnecessary to order him to leave the Navy.
The law repealing the longtime policy, signed by President Barack Obama Dec. 22, goes into effect 60 days after Obama, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen certify that lifting the ban won't hurt the military's ability to fight.
Gates has said he would issue certification after the training for the open service of gay men and women has begun throughout the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
The House Armed Services personnel subcommittee's 9:30 a.m. EDT hearing Friday is intended to check up on progress in repealing "don't ask, don't tell," officials said.
Lawmakers are scheduled to hear from Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley, who is charged with overseeing the Pentagon's repeal of the ban, and Joint Staff Director Vice Adm. William Gortney, the Armed Services Committee's Web site said.
The personnel subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who voted against repealing "don't ask, don't tell."
Wilson also received international attention when he interrupted an Obama healthcare speech to a joint session of Congress Sept. 9, 2009, and shouted, "You lie!"
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans and a U.S. Army Reserve officer who fought in Iraq, told the Washington Blade a full Armed Services Committee hearing on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal was scheduled for April 7.
Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP lobbying group, support "fairness, freedom and equality" for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.