Defense Secretary Robert Gates joined the list of skeptics Monday when he said he was “not particularly optimistic” that the Senate would vote before the end of the year to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.
Speaking aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, Gates said he was unsure that there would be a repeal of the 17-year-old ban, and reiterated his concern that if Congress did not act on the legislation, the courts might overturn the policy on their own.
“My greatest fear is that we have to be told that this law will be overturned by a court and we will be forced to implement it without any time for information or training, or any of the other efforts that need to be undertaken to prepare us for such a change,” Gates said.
In Washington, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) offered a different perspective.
Lieberman, a leading advocate of overturning the ban, “believes that there are at least 60 votes to repeal . . . provided the leadership allows time for sufficient debate and amendments,” according to an aide to the Senator.
Leiberman has called upon the Senate should stay in session until the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed.
On Monday morning, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the schedule for the Senate’s votes through the end of the lame-duck session — Dec. 17 — which makes no mention of the Defense Authorization Bill, which includes the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal language.