Obama Signs Landmark US Military Gay Law

President Obama has signed a landmark measure ordering the US armed services to allow gay men and women to serve openly for the first time.

Approval of the measure by Congress this month was a victory for Mr Obama after he made the repeal of the so-called 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy a campaign issue.

At the signing ceremony in Washington the president said that valour and sacrifice in the armed forces are no longer defined by sexual orientation.

Mr Obama said he was proud to fulfill his campaign pledge and sign a bill which he believes will "strengthen national security".

Since 1993, when the Pentagon introduced the policy allowing gays and lesbians to join the armed forces if they did not reveal their sexuality, at least 13,000 people have been expelled from the armed forces for violating the rules.


The Pentagon will now have to draft a plan for implementing the altered rules, deciding how troops will be educated about the new policy.

Decisions will also have to be made about disciplinary procedures and the status of those who were fired for violating "Don't Ask" in the past.

Some top military figures have opposed the repeal and believe it is too risky to make such a change when the armed services are already stretched fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A recent study found about 30% of troops expressed negative views or concerns about the repeal.

But the signing is a victory for America's gay community and for Mr Obama who had been criticised for not acting swiftly enough.

He hailed the courage and vision of defence secretary Robert Gates and praised Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who advocated changing the 17-year-old policy.

"No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country they love," Obama said.
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Local Pastor Charged with Over 100 Counts of Child Porn

CLEVELAND —Rev. Dr. Mark Griggs, pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Olmsted Falls, has been charged with trading in child pornography.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that Griggs, 48, faces 112 counts that include downloading, trading and possessing child pornography.

Griggs is one of 27 adults, along with three juveniles, charged in a six month investigation called "Operation Lake Effect." The investigation has been conducted by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

Prosecutors charge that Griggs downloaded and saved images of children being sexually abused onto his computer. They say Griggs traded child porn images from both his home and church computers.

"Shocking...always," Mason says of a pastor being indicted on such charges.

But Griggs', attorney, Jay Milano, says his client will fight the charges.

"Reverend Griggs is going to plead and he's going to defend himself," says Milano. "He's not a child pornographer."

Milano says Rev. Griggs was on "Limewire" -- an internet file-sharing program.

"If you're downloading files from Limewire, you don't have any control of what's coming into your computer," Milano says.

Prosecutor Mason rejects the notion that Griggs made innocent mistakes.

"The amount of downloading and file sharing he has is significant," Mason says.

The church's website talks about Griggs' "commitment and love of children."

In a statement released Thursday, the Presbytery of the Western Reserve said the following about Griggs' arrest: "We do not have much information about this situation yet but the Presbytery takes allegations of misconduct very seriously and will cooperate with authorities in their investigation."

All of these cases are in Cuyahoga County, indicating how pervasive child porn can be. 34 other cases have been sent to other jurisdictions.

Prosecutor Mason says the investigation shows the need for parents to monitor what their children do online. And he also says that predators should be aware that, if they continue trading in child porn, they may well be caught.

An initial court date for Griggs and the other defendants has not been set yet.

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