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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 23
Gates and Mullen say DADT repeal not imminent
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Gates and Mullen say DADT repeal not imminent

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The nation's top uniformed military officer and highest-ranking civilian told troops that a possible 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) repeal is not imminent. The comments were not made in a joint statement; instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to troops on two different days and at two different locations - a stark contrast to the policy their boss, President Obama, has supported. Obama, the commander in chief of the U.S. military, fully supports a repeal of the 1993 law that disallows Gays and Lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces.

On May 28, just one day after the House of Representatives voted to end the DADT law, Gates said in a message to servicemembers that any change in policy would first be preceded by a thorough Defense Department review and would require final approval by him.

Under the proposed legislation, the repeal would be "deferred" and enter into force "only after - I repeat - after the ongoing Department of Defense high-level review is completed," Gates said on the Pentagon television channel. He also said that if there were a change to the law, it would be carried out "without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness, and recruiting and retention."

Gates reassured troops, and DADT repeal opponents, that the current law, which requires Gay military personnel to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face dismissal, would remain in force and that military commanders are expected to enforce it.

Echoing similar sentiment, Mullen told troops on May 30 that he would have preferred that Congress had waited until the Pentagon completed its review before voting to repeal DADT.

"Ideally, I would certainly have preferred that legislation not be brought forward in terms of change until we are completed with that review," Mullen said.

According to Mullen, there is worry among some in the military that the House vote short-circuited the process of consulting with troops and their families.

"It is really critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most as we look at the implementation challenges, should the law change," said Mullen, who has said he favors lifting the ban.

Colin Powell, the retired Army general who opposed allowing Gays to serve openly when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the law was enacted, said he now supports repeal and believes it will happen.

"The president said we're going to do it. It's a decision," Powell said. "And the Congress has to pass the law to allow that. And so let's take the time to make the study, see what the implications are."

Before Obama can sign the plan into law, the full Senate still needs to vote on the proposal and then different versions of the bill would have to be reconciled.

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