Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants lawmakers to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay service members before the next Congress, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
“I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” — as the policy is known — “but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are,” Gates said Saturday as he traveled to defense and diplomatic meetings in Australia. Supporters of lifting the ban predict it will be more difficult to do after Republicans take control of the House and increase their ranks in the Senate in the 112th Congress.
President Barack Obama also favors a legislative repeal of the ban, but he said in a speech Wednesday that there would be time for such a measure after the military completes a study of the effects of a repeal. The review is due Dec. 1, and Obama said it could leave Congress enough time to act in a lame-duck session.
A federal appeals court ordered this month that the ban be continued while a case on the matter works its way through the courts. That decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a district judge’s order to stop enforcing the ban after she found the policy to be unconstitutional. The Justice Department is appealing the district judge’s finding.