December 6th, 2010
05:40 PM ET

Gates not optimistic for quick repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

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CNN Wires Staff

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he was "not particularly optimistic" that Congress would soon repeal the "don't ask, don' tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian personnel from the military.

During a visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier deployed in the Arabian Gulf, Gates also made clear that even if the Senate approves a measure already passed by the House to end the controversial 1993 policy, it would be some time before the military fully implements a repeal.

"One of the virtues of the legislation that's in front of the Congress right now is that it gives the president and me and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff latitude in how long we take to prepare for this and how long it actually would be to be implemented," Gates said in response to a question from personnel deployed on the vessel.

"Before a change in the law, we would have to certify that we've made enough preparations that it wouldn't affect unit cohesion, morale, retention and recruiting, and so on," he continued. "The legislation would give us great deal of flexibility. I am not particularly optimistic, though, that it will get done. We'll see."

Facing a diminished majority in the Senate next year due to losses in the recent mid-term congressional elections, Democrats hope to pass a broad defense authorization bill that includes the "don't ask, don't tell" language in the current lame-duck session of Congress that lasts until early January.

Republicans opposed to repeal are trying to strip the "don't ask, don't tell" language from the defense authorization bill. Having gained six Senate seats in the election to reduce the Democratic-controlled majority to 53-47 in the next congressional session, the Republicans know they'll have a better chance of blocking repeal then.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics • Robert Gates
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Dave B

    You need to listen to the Army and Marine Generals. They oversee combat troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Combats troops are mostly against repealing DADT. Only about 27% of the military responded to the DADT survey. Perhaps the rest thought it was already a done deal so why waste their time. Prior to the survey's results, both Obama and Gates had made statements in favor of repealing it. The Democrat controlled House of Representatives already had passed a bill repealing it. Two Federal courts have ruled the policy unconstitutional. So why bother doing the survey?

    December 6, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear CNN, be realistic on DADT its not a question of votes its a filibuster, they will filibuster any defense bill with DADT attached, and therefore delay any final vote till they can get conservative leaning Dems 4 to vote it down in the Senate,in January. It will never then get on the agenda again before SCOTUS rules. Annie kate is right We'll all be dead before DADT is repealed and our kids as well!!
    PS so is start dead in the water.

    December 6, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    "Not now" – that can be used for years. When will it be time to implement don't ask don't tell? I have a feeling most of us won't live that long.

    December 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm |