U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking to reporters on Saturday, said that he hopes Congress will repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy during the upcoming post election session starting on Nov. 15.
But Gates did not sound optimistic that the current Congress would use the brief ‘lame duck’ session to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay service members, telling reporters:
“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.”
Pentagon officials insist that they are ahead of schedule in delivering the survey that was commissioned by Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to gather information on the potential effects of the repeal to service members and their families.
Sources in the Pentagon familiar with partial results of the survey and speaking on condition of anonymity, have told reporters that the majority of the armed forces personnel surveyed have stated that “it’s not a big deal” and would like to see the policy done away with.
In his press conference on Wednesday following the mid-term election, President Barack Obama reiterated his desire to see the policy repealed in keeping with his commitment to have it eliminated.
The President indicated that there was still time to repeal the ban in December or early January, after the military study is finished.
Political analysts and supporters of the repeal predict that the Republican takeover of the House in January, along with a slim majority in the Senate by Democrats, repeal is not likely during the next session of Congress.
Some Republican lawmakers, emboldened by the GOP gains, have privately said that they will block any efforts to repeal the policy before January.
The Advocate’s Senior White House correspondent Kerry Eleveld, has reported that a source close to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that Levin is in preliminary discussions regarding possible changes in the must pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), stripping it of the DADT repeal amendment.
“Levin is making calls under the premise – we can’t afford to waste time on a controversial provision, so we’ll strip out the controversial provision and be able to get the bill on and off the floor in the available amount of time,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “This is another in a long series of cases where Democrats are capitulating to the Republicans.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, told the Advocate, “In that scenario my fear is that the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ provision could be stripped out, Levin doesn’t want to be the first committee chairman (in half a century) not to see an NDAA pass.”