Gates Sets Nov. 30 for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Report Release

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — The report of a work­ing group he cre­at­ed to research the ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the Defense Depart­ment if the law ban­ning gay men and les­bians from serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary is repealed will be released to Con­gress and the pub­lic Nov. 30, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates announced here today.
Gates formed the work­ing group in Feb­ru­ary, appoint­ing Gen. Carter F. Ham, com­man­der of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh C. John­son, DOD’s gen­er­al coun­sel, to lead the effort.

In a round­table dis­cus­sion with reporters here, Gates said he want­ed the work­ing group’s report to inform the Defense Depart­ment about what it would need to do should the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law be changed, and also to inform the leg­isla­tive process.

The sec­re­tary not­ed that judi­cial involve­ment in the law’s sta­tus in Octo­ber — which includ­ed a direc­tive to sus­pend the law imme­di­ate­ly — led to the Defense Depart­ment hav­ing four dif­fer­ent poli­cies in place over the course of two weeks. He told reporters that since he first tes­ti­fied to Con­gress on the sub­ject in Feb­ru­ary, he has main­tained that “hav­ing to imple­ment [an end to the law] imme­di­ate­ly and with­out prepa­ra­tion, and with­out tak­ing the steps to mit­i­gate what­ev­er risks there are, I think, is the worst of all pos­si­ble out­comes.”

Gates declined to spec­u­late as to whether the cur­rent Con­gress or its suc­ces­sor would take up the issue. “We’ll see what the reac­tion to the report is,” he said. But he re-empha­sized his belief that the Defense Depart­ment should not be forced to react to a sud­den end to the law before offi­cials know how to go about it prop­er­ly.

“All I know is, if this law is going to change, it’s bet­ter that it be changed by leg­is­la­tion, rather than have it struck down by the courts with the poten­tial for us hav­ing to imple­ment it imme­di­ate­ly,” he said.

The sec­re­tary arrived here today to attend a con­fer­ence of West­ern Hemi­sphere defense min­is­ters.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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