Robert Gates said on
Fox News Sunday
that the Pentagon and the Obama administration can't multitask
when it comes to eliminating the ban on gays serving openly in
"I think the
president and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates
right now and let's push that one down the road a little
bit," Gates said, referring to the reversal of the military's
"don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Fox's Chris Wallace
began the question by asking Secretary Gates why money had been
included in the Pentagon's 2010 budget to continue enforcing
the policy. "Well, it continues to be the law," Gates
responded, "and any change in the policy would require a
change in the law. We will follow the law, whatever it
Accountability Office estimates that the total cost of
discharging and replacing service members fired for being gay
was at least $190.5 million from 1994 to 2003. However, a
detailed study by the Palm Center, a University of California,
Santa Barbara, think tank, put the price tag for the first 10
years at $363.8 million.
administration declined to comment on Gates's remarks.
Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal,
immediately issued a statement Sunday. "Right now is the time
-- while we're engaged in two wars -- we need the most
qualified men and women serving," executive director Aubrey
Sarvis said. "This is not the time to keep firing linguists
and intelligence analysts because of their sexual orientation.
The longer the president and Pentagon delay the issue, the
fewer linguists and intelligence analysts the Pentagon will
have to call on to fight terrorism in Pakistan and
Afghanistan."aEUR"aEUR"Almost 13,000 military personnel have been
discharged under the law since its inception and,
according to a 2005 GAO estimate, about 800 of them have been
"mission-critical service members" such as pilots,
intelligence analysts, medics, and linguists.
White House press
secretary Robert Gibbs said in January that President Obama
would, in fact, overturn the policy, and Administration
spokespeople have added that they are consulting with Secretary
Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen on
the issue. But Gates said Sunday "that dialogue has not
really progressed very far at this point in this
Gates is not the only
one steering clear of a timeline for repeal. Earlier this
month, House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi stopped short
of giving dates when asked if she would move to vote on
"don't ask, don't tell" before the end of the year.
"We want to win on
this," she said. "So we'll have to create an atmosphere,
create an environment in which we will win."
A bill to repeal the
law was introduced this month in the House by Rep. Ellen
that she would be leaving Congress to take a post at the State
Department. A new sponsor has yet to be announced, and no one
in the Senate has stepped forward to take the lead on the