Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says
he is “disappointed” at the Senate's failure to repeal “Don't
Ask, Don't Tell.”
“I was disappointed in the Senate
vote, but not surprised,” Gates told reporters en route from the
On Thursday, Republicans blocked a
measure that would repeal the law that bans gay and bisexual troops
from serving openly. Maine Senator Susan Collins crossed the aisle
to vote with all but one Democrat, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
Blanche Lincoln, a senator from Arkansas who voted against the
measure in September, arrived too late to cast her vote, but told
reporters that she would have voted for repeal.
The measure will face a steeper incline
next year when Republicans, who mostly support the policy, regain
control of the House and increase their numbers in the Senate.
Gates warned that Congressional failure
to repeal the law would leave the military “at the mercy of the
“The fact remains, though, that there
is still roughly a week left in the lame-duck session, and so I would
hope that the Congress would act to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
If they are unable to do that, then as I've indicated in testimony
and talking with you all, my greatest worry will be that then we are
at the mercy of the courts and all of the lack of predictability that
was among the military leaders who testified in favor of repeal
before a Senate panel. He urged Congress to repeal the law
before the courts force 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 being appealed.
Gates called the ruling a “wake-up
call” for the military.
Repeal is “something that I think
needs to be done very carefully, very thoughtfully and to take the
time necessary to prepare. And so as I said, the way we get that
time most assuredly is with the legislation that's before the
Barack Obama also urged the Senate to schedule a second vote before
the end of the session.