Reacting to news that a federal judge
had ordered the Pentagon to halt implementing its ban on gay troops,
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the law should be repealed by
Congress, not courts.
“I feel very strongly that this is an
action that needs to be taken by the Congress, and that it is an
action that requires careful preparation and a lot of training,”
Gates told reporters traveling with him en route to Belgium from
Vietnam, the American Forces Press Service reported. “We
have a lot of revision of regulations that has to be done.”
The 1993 law, known as “Don't Ask,
Don't Tell,” prescribes discharge for gay, lesbian and bisexual
service members who do not remain closeted or celibate.
Last month, U.S.
District Judge Virginia Phillips declared the law
unconstitutional. She said the policy has a “direct and
deleterious effect” on the armed services.
On Tuesday, she granted plaintiffs,
represented by gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans, the injunction
they sought. Justice Department lawyers had argued that the order
should apply only to Log Cabin members, but Phillips disagreed.
The ruling comes after Democrats
in the Senate failed to break a Senator John McCain-led Republican
filibuster on legislative repeal of the Clinton-era law.
Gates added that he would like to see
the results of an ongoing military survey on implementing repeal
before lifting the law.
“This is very complex business,” he
said. “It has enormous consequences for our troops. And as I have
said from the very beginning, I think there should be legislation,
and that legislation should be informed by the review we have under
Phillips' order is likely to be
appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, said
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal of the policy.
“The law still has a chance of being
repealed in the lame duck session of Congress,” Sarvis said in a