Defense Secretary Robert Gates said
Monday he's “not particularly optimistic” that Congress would
soon repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 17-year-old law that
bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly, CNN reported.
was among the military leaders who testified before a Congressional
panel last week in favor of repeal. Democratic leaders have said
they'll bring a defense spending bill that includes the repeal
measure to a vote before the end of the year. Republicans, led by
Arizona Senator John McCain, have threatened to filibuster the move
in the Senate.
“One of the virtues of the
legislation that's in front of the Congress right now is that it
gives the president and me and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff latitude in how long we take to prepare for this and how long
it actually would be to be implemented,” Gates told told troops
serving on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
“Before a change in the law, we would
have to certify that we've made enough preparations that it wouldn't
affect unit cohesion, morale, retention and recruiting, and so on,”
he added. “The legislation would give us great deal of
flexibility. I am not particularly optimistic, though, that it will
get done. We'll see.”
In his testimony, Gates urged Congress
to repeal the law before courts forced its immediate end. A judge's
order that called the law unconstitutional forced the military to end
enforcement of the policy for eight days in October. The
Obama administration convinced an appeals court to put the ruling on
hold as the case is appealed.
“A change in this law is inevitable,”
Gates added on Monday.