Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Sunday told a group of Marines that they do not have the option of leaving the service just because they disagree with the upcoming repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Fielding questions from troops during a stop in Afghanistan, Gates was quizzed by a Marine sergeant about lifting the ban on opening gay service members:
“Sir, we joined the Marine Corps because the Marine Corps has a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector. And we have gone and changed those values and repealed the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” the sergeant told Gates during the question and answer session.
“We have not given the Marines a chance to decide whether they wish to continue serving under that. Is there going to be an option for those Marines that no longer wish to serve due to the fact their moral values have not changed?” he asked.
“No,” Gates responded. “You’ll have to complete your … enlistment just like everybody else.”
“The reality is that you don’t all agree with each other on your politics, you don’t agree with each other on your religion, you don’t agree with each other on a lot of things,” he added. “But you still serve together. And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that’s all that matters.”
Previously, Gates told a group of service members not to expect “much change at all” when the repeal takes effect.
“The whole thrust of the training is you’re supposed to go on treating everybody like you’re supposed to be treating everybody now — with dignity, respect and discipline,” Gates said.