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Gates clarifies goal of 'don't ask' review team

By Ed O'Keefe

The Pentagon's review of its "don't ask, don't tell" policy will determine how -- not whether -- the military can best prepare for a possible repeal of the ban on openly gay soldiers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates clarified in a letter written Thursday.

The message came in response to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who asked Gates to clarify the intent of the Pentagon study after the secretary asked lawmakers once again last week not to repeal the gay ban until the Pentagon review is completed.

Gates's request infuriated gay rights groups eager to see a repeal included in this year's Defense Authorization bill. Levin supports that strategy and advocates are working to secure 15 "yes" votes for the repeal ahead of a vote on the authorization bill later this month.

Quoting from his February testimony before Levin's committee, Gates said, "The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change but how we ... best prepare for it." The team -- led by Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham -- is "developing a plan to implement such a repeal in the most informed and effective manner possible," Gates said.

Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen voiced their personal opposition to the gay ban during a February Senate hearing.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 7, 2010; 2:43 PM ET
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Comments

With respect to Secretary Gates, I do not really understand what the study is intended to accomplish.

After all, there are gay soldiers who are serving in the Military right now, right this minute.

Why does taking NO ACTION to kick them out of the Military require a study?

Don't kick them out.

There. Study complete.

Posted by: ricklinguist | May 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

People who support a successful repeal of the don't-ask-don't-tell statute should hope that Senator Levin fails in his effort to act before the DOD "study" is completed. Gay people in the military will need the informed support of the chain of command, and Robert Gates is the number 2 man in that chain. Mullen did what he felt was right, but if gays want the support of the other Chiefs and the thousands of officers who have grave doubt about the change in the law, they should be patient for a few months longer. If Levin succeeds in his effort to thwart Gates, gays and not the Senator will pay for it. Gates and his officers will do what they are ordered to do by the President, but they won't like it. Gay service people and their well-wishers should be careful.

Posted by: miglefitz | May 7, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

ricklinguist says: "With respect to Secretary Gates, I do not really understand what the study is intended to accomplish."

As Gates has said repeatedly, the "study" is not to determine WHETHER the policy should change but HOW the change should be implemented. The CONDUCT of the study and not its finding is a crucial part of preparing the ranks for the change

Posted by: miglefitz | May 7, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Expect this issue to "die in committee". The administration got the gay vote by championing a repeal of DADT, they won't need that block until 2012 or thereabouts when I'm sure it'll resurface again.

Posted by: luca_20009 | May 7, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"As Gates has said repeatedly, the "study" is not to determine WHETHER the policy should change but HOW the change should be implemented. The CONDUCT of the study and not its finding is a crucial part of preparing the ranks for the change"Posted by: miglefitz | May 7, 2010 4:23 PM |

Thanks, miglefitz, but "prepare" the ranks for what?

Let's take Private "Jones". He's serving in the Military right now. And he's gay.

They change the policy so that people like Private Jones will not be subject to dismissal on the grounds that they are gay.

Private Jones continues to serve.

Now what? What "preparation" was required? What do soldiers need to "prepare"?

I don't mean to be dismissive. Maybe I am missing something. But it isn't at all clear to me how one "prepares" for this.

As a gay person, I live my life. Sometimes, as it happens, people who didn't realize I was gay find out that I am. Now what? I still go about my business, and they still go about theirs.

Posted by: ricklinguist | May 7, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

For the last time , quit using the word " Gay " to describe these misfits. There's nothing gay about perversion and these pukes and what they do for sexual gratification is perverse. Sticking what doesn't belong into where it doesn't belong, and then making it a lolipop is sickening and anyone who says it isn't is sick . Just imagine what Bahney Fwank does behind the scenes with some male intern in a closet And as for them being in the Military, what the Hell do you think when in times go by they were personna non grata . That those who ran things in Government didn't know what they were doing when they kept them out ? Just go to sleep during boot training, and awaken one night to find one creeping under your blanket trying to get into your shorts, and then tell me they belong with natural people getting ready to defend their country. If you want them in the Army, get them all into one unit and they can stay up all night doing the dirty until they can't walk straight.

Posted by: puck-101 | May 7, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"For the last time , quit using the word 'Gay' to describe these misfits. There's nothing gay about perversion"...Posted by: puck-101 | May 7, 2010 5:39 PM

Shrug. With respect, language changes. It's not good or bad, or right or wrong. It's simply a change.

Or do you also object to the word "mouse" in reference to that computer device?

Posted by: ricklinguist | May 7, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"...Just go to sleep during boot training, and awaken one night to find one creeping under your blanket trying to get into your shorts..."

This would be grounds for prosecution and dismissal.

And it wouldn't matter when the individual creeping under your blanket were male or female, or whether you were.

With respect, maybe instead of "just imagining", you should concentrate on doing your job.

That's what the vast majority of soldiers do, and it doesn't seem to matter whether they are gay or straight.

Posted by: ricklinguist | May 7, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

First let me say that I fully support the repeal of DADT and I am as eager as anyone to see it happen as quickly as possible. Having said that, I don't think it's as easy as just saying the military is not going to kick gays out anymore. There are multiple issues that need to be addressed. Will partners of gay/lesbian soldiers receive the same benefits as heterosexuals? Will there be diversity training to help military members adjust to serving with OUT gays and lesbians? (i.e. they may talk about their partners, may want to bring their partners to military functions, etc)I really hope that this delay is not just another ruse for keeping DADT in place to pacify the old-school military brass - I will be sorely disappointed if that's the case. But the repeal of DADT needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully. Let's hope that's what they're using this time for.

Oh, and by the way, if we had same-sex marriage in this country, there wouldn't be a need for all this BS.

Posted by: graphchick1 | May 7, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

"...There are multiple issues that need to be addressed. Will partners of gay/lesbian soldiers receive the same benefits as heterosexuals? Will there be diversity training to help military members adjust to serving with OUT gays and lesbians? (i.e. they may talk about their partners, may want to bring their partners to military functions, etc)..."Posted by: graphchick1

Thanks for your thoughtful post.

I guess I continue to see this as trying to make more of the change than actually meets the eye.

Benefits for partners? That's something that the Military ought to address, but I don't see that that's relevant to continuing to kick out gay soldiers who are doing their job.

No matter what the decisions about benefits turn out to be, why would we need to study THAT question before we stop kicking them out?

It's like saying that we should consider whether dependent parents or grandparents ought to be covered by benefits. Fine. Let's consider that. But we wouldn't need to study whether to kick out soldiers with dependent parents or grandparents REGARDLESS, would we?

Diversity training? I have a similar reaction to that. We don't currently kick out high school students or college students depending on whether others are ok with them or not, whether or not those high schools or colleges have diversity programs in place.

Why would professional soldiers be more problem-prone when it comes to others than high schoolers are?!

I don't think we give soldiers nearly enough credit for being fair and reasonable.

Cheers,
Ricklinguist

Posted by: ricklinguist | May 7, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Those who scream about "gay" and "perversion" seem childish. Gays have always served in the military and always will. Gays exist in secular countries and theocracies that punish gayness with death. It's silly to pretend that Don't As, Don't Tell is anything but mean-spirited gay bashing.

We are all born with inalienable rights and freedoms. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. If it's acceptable to single out one group for discrimination, then it's acceptable to discriminate against any other group.

Posted by: Reesh | May 7, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see the direction that this memo gives to DADT but I still think it is horrid that Gates is draging his feet when this is something that is desired by the NCA and most of the nation.

It is past time for President Obama to order Gates to stop the stall. I'm sorry there are homophobes and biggots in the military in this day and age and they are the ones who should be discharged, for conduct unbecomming, at least.

Posted by: Ranger-Phx | May 7, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

jumping in a little late but it seems not impossible that Gates is doing Demz a favor...put up a fuss and fold before election time so Demz could chalk one up... besides, Gates so far has been the only Obama senior worthy of one of these...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom

think about it.

Posted by: pfina | May 7, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

puck-101 says "For the last time , quit using the word " Gay " to describe these misfits. There's nothing gay about perversion and these pukes and what they do for sexual gratification is perverse. " quote

Well, there are about 65000 gay soldiers in the military. Maybe everyone of them ought to "come out" and demand to be released under DADT.

And btw there are, with the increase in troops, about 65000 in Afghanistan.

i guess Puck101 thinks his sick prejudices and hate are more important then trying to kill Bin Laden, and stabilize this region next to nuclear armed Pakistan.

Time to draft Puck and his kind, and send them to the front............ See how brave he is then. He'd probably be crying "I am gay", hoping to get out of danger

Posted by: SJames6621 | May 13, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

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