USA — Gates Can Accept ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Amendment

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates can accept a pro­posed con­gres­sion­al amend­ment over­turn­ing the ban on gay men and les­bians serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary, but would pre­fer that law­mak­ers wait until a Defense Depart­ment review to assess its full impact is com­plet­ed, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said today.

“Sec­re­tary Gates con­tin­ues to believe that ide­al­ly, the [Defense Depart­ment] review should be com­plet­ed before there is any leg­is­la­tion to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ law,” Mor­rell said in a state­ment issued today. “With Con­gress hav­ing indi­cat­ed that is not pos­si­ble, the sec­re­tary can accept the lan­guage in the pro­posed amend­ment.”

Con­gress has made clear it won’t wait for results of the Defense Com­pre­hen­sive Review on the Imple­men­ta­tion of Repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654, due Dec. 1, and expects to put the issue to a vote this week.

Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get Direc­tor Peter R. Orszag expressed the Oba­ma administration’s sup­port for the pro­posed amend­ment in a May 24 let­ter to its spon­sors.

Even if Con­gress pass­es the mea­sure this week, the pol­i­cy would remain in effect until after the review is com­plet­ed and the pres­i­dent and mil­i­tary lead­ers have cer­ti­fied that a pol­i­cy change would­n’t threat­en the military’s abil­i­ty to car­ry out its mis­sions, defense offi­cials explained.

“The pro­posed amend­ment will allow for com­ple­tion of the com­pre­hen­sive review, enable the Depart­ment of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the imple­men­ta­tion of the repeal is con­sis­tent with stan­dards of mil­i­tary readi­ness, effec­tive­ness, unit cohe­sion, recruit­ing and reten­tion,” Orszag wrote.

The amend­ment also will guar­an­tee that the depart­ment “has pre­pared the nec­es­sary polices and reg­u­la­tions need­ed to suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment the repeal,” he con­tin­ued.

“Fur­ther­more, such an approach rec­og­nizes the crit­i­cal need to allow our mil­i­tary and their fam­i­lies the full oppor­tu­ni­ty to inform and shape the imple­men­ta­tion process through a thor­ough under­stand­ing of their con­cerns, insights and sug­ges­tions,” he wrote. “The admin­is­tra­tion there­fore sup­ports the pro­posed amend­ment.”

Like Gates, the admin­is­tra­tion ide­al­ly would like to see the Defense Depart­ment review com­plet­ed before Con­gress takes any leg­isla­tive action, Orszag con­ced­ed. But rec­og­niz­ing that Con­gress has “cho­sen to move for­ward now,” he said the admin­is­tra­tion can sup­port the pro­posed amend­ment.

Gates, who sup­ports the law’s repeal, announced in Feb­ru­ary that he had ordered a review to under­stand the impli­ca­tions of a pos­si­ble repeal of the 17-year-old law. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has called on Con­gress to repeal the law.

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