Monday, November 8, 2010

Defense Secretary Gates: Lame Duck Congress Should Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

At this point, there are only two ways to end the "don't ask, don't tell" law: either the lame duck Congress repeals it or President Obama ends it through executive order. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is urging the former course of action–though he seems doubtful that it will be done. From the AP:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is encouraging Congress to act before year's end to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military. It's a position shared by his boss, the president.

But his new Marine commandant [Gen. James Amos] thinks otherwise and the Senate has not yet taken action, setting up yet another hurdle for gay activists who see their window quickly closing. After Tuesday's elections that saw Republicans chip away at Democrats' majority in the Senate and wrest the House from their control, their hopes for ending the 17-year-old law have dimmed.

"I would like to see the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are and we'll just have to see," Gates told reporters traveling with him to Australia this weekend.

Gates has said he would prefer Congress act after the Pentagon releases its study of how repeal would be implemented, which is due Dec. 1.

...The House has passed legislation repealing "don't ask, don't tell," but it has not yet seen a vote in the full Senate, where Democrats don't have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. Democratic leaders says they are trying to reach a deal across the aisle now that Election Day has passed.

...A Gallup poll in May found 70 percent of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.

...Between 1997 and 2008, the Defense Department discharged more than 10,500 service members for violating the ["don't ask, don't tell"] policy.

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