Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has rejected Arizona Senator John McCain's suggestion to put repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” up for a vote, The Hill reported.

McCain, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has dismissed an upcoming Pentagon report on how to implement repeal, saying that he wanted the Pentagon to study “the effects on morale and battle effectiveness” on troops if the ban on gays serving openly is lifted. He also said he wanted the opinions of the service chiefs, who mostly oppose repeal of the Clinton-era law, to weigh more heavily.

“I do not believe that military policy decisions – on this or any other subject – should be made through a referendum on Servicemembers,” Gates wrote to McCain in a letter dated October 25 but only recently made public.

According to unnamed Washington Post sources, the report will show that a large majority (more than 70 percent) of troops are okay serving alongside openly gay troops.

Gates said he sought out the opinions of members of the military to better “understand how a change in DADT policy may impact unit cohesion, military readiness and effectiveness, recruiting and retention, and family readiness.”

“This will ensure that we can properly advise the President and the Congress on the impacts of a repeal and develop an implementation plan that appropriately addresses any such impacts,” Gates wrote.

Two days' worth of hearings on the report are scheduled to begin in the Senate next week. In an apparent nod to McCain, Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, is also seeking the advice of the four service chiefs touted by McCain.