Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has
spoken out for a second time in nearly as many weeks about repeal of
the military's gay ban known as “don't ask, don't tell.”
Gates said repeal of the law is
“complex and difficult” and would need to be undertaken
“carefully,” reports the New York Times.
“If we do it,” Gates told reporters
on his plane after speaking at the Army War College in Carlisle,
Pennsylvania, “it's important that we do it right, and very
“The president has made it clear
where he wants to go” with the law, Gates responded to an officer
earlier in the day at the college. “Everybody in this room knows
that this is a complex and difficult problem.”
“There is a law. If the law changes
so will our policies,” he added.
“Don't ask, don't tell” is the
1993, Clinton-approved law that prescribes discharge as the remedy
for gay service members who do not remain quiet about their sexuality
or do not remain celibate. More than 13,000 members of the military
have been fired under the law, according to the Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal.
Gates reminded the officers that it
took five years for the armed forces to fully enforce former
President Harry Truman's 1948 executive order that ended racial
segregation in the military.
“I'm not saying that's a model for
this, but I'm saying that I believe that this is something that needs
to be done very, very carefully,” Gates said.
The Obama administration issued a
statement in early March that it was discussing repeal of the gay ban
with top Pentagon brass. White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor said the
president has “begun consulting with Secretary Gates and Chairman
Mullen so that this change is done in a sensible way that strengthens
our armed forces and national security.”
But speaking on Fox News Sunday
late last month, Gates said there had been little progress on
repealing the law.
Chris Wallace asked Gates why money to
enforce “don't ask, don't tell” was in the 2010 budget when the
Obama administration has pledged its support for repeal.
Gates answered that it “continues to
be the law.”
“We will follow that law, whatever it
is,” Gates said. “That dialog though has really not progressed
very far at this point in the administration. I think the president
and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates right now and let's
push that one down the road a little bit.”