Defense Secretary Robert Gates on
Monday said he would sign certification that the military is prepared
to end the ban on openly gay military service if top officers agree.
Gates, who'll retire from his post on
June 30, told the Associated Press that he doesn't foresee any
impediments to repeal, and, if the top officers of each service
agree, he's prepared to endorse certification.
“I think people are pretty satisfied
with the way this process is going forward,” he said, referring to
the military's training of more than a million U.S. troops. “I
think people have been mildly and pleasantly surprised at the lack of
pushback in the training.”
Gay rights groups, who have been
pushing Pentagon officials for certification before Gates steps
aside, praised the move.
“SLDN is pleased to see Secretary
Gates clearly state that he is prepared to certify 'Don't Ask, Don't
Tell' repeal before he leaves his post at the end of the month,”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), said in a statement. “After nearly six months of
preparation and training, we join the Secretary in expressing
confidence that the military is, indeed, ready for open service.
Hopefully, with the bulk of the training completed in all of the
services, the service chiefs are rapidly approaching the point where
they can officially recommend to the JCS Chairman Michael Mullen,
Secretary Gates, and to the President that the time has come to make
the long anticipated certification. The time to certify 'Don't Ask,
Don't Tell' repeal is on Secretary Gates' watch.”
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” ends 60
days after certification by top Pentagon officials and President