Gates to Congress: Don't vote yet on 'don't ask'
Updated 7:29 p.m. ET
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday once again asked Congress not to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy before the Pentagon completes a review of it.
In a sharply worded letter, Gates said he believes the Defense Department must be allowed to review the potential impact of repealing the ban on openly gay service members before Congress acts.
"Our military must be afforded the opportunity to inform us of their concerns, insights and suggestions if we are to carry out this change successfully," Gates wrote in response to an inquiry from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.).
[Read both letters below.]
Repealing the policy before the military completes its review, "would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence, their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact and consequence for them and their families," Gates said.
The letter was co-signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, who joined Gates in voicing personal opposition to the ban at a February Senate hearing.
Later Friday White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “The President’s commitment to repealing don't ask, don't tell is unequivocal. This is not a question of if, but how. That’s why we’ve said that the implementation of any congressional repeal will be delayed until the DOD study of how best to implement that repeal is completed. The President is committed to getting this done both soon and right.”
Lawmakers -- led by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) -- want to end the ban before the Pentagon completes its review, while others, including Skelton, are skeptical.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of several gay rights groups pushing lawmakers to act fast, said, “There is no reason that Congress cannot move forward with repeal while the Pentagon’s review of how – not if – to end the ban on open service continues apace." Activists hope to secure the support of at least 15 senators on the Armed Services Committee to get the ban included in this year's Defense Authorization Bill.
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Skelton letter to Gates:
Gates letter to Skelton:
| April 30, 2010; 5:25 PM ET
Categories: Congress, Workplace Issues
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