Defense Sec’y Gates Warns of Abrupt Dismissal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, Says Courts Should Not Set Policy

Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke out today on Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling barring enforcement of the military's ban on gays in the military:

Gates "Gates said Wednesday that abruptly ending the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy as a federal judge has ordered would have enormous consequences. A day after a judge in California ordered the Pentagon to cease enforcement of its policy barring gays from openly serving in the military, Gates told reporters that the question of whether to repeal the law should be decided by Congress, and done only after the Pentagon completes its study on the issue. 'I feel strongly this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress and that it is an action that requires careful preparation, and a lot of training,' said Gates. 'It has enormous consequences for our troops.' The defense secretary said that besides the changes in training, regulations will need revisions and changes may be necessary to benefits and Defense Department buildings."

The BBC adds: "At the White House on Wednesday, spokesman Robert Gibbs described 'don't ask, don't tell' as 'a policy that is going to end'. But he declined to answer whether the Obama administration preferred to seek a stay of the injunction and appeal against the ruling."

The Department of Justice has until December 16 to appeal the ruling.


  1. walter says

    now the defense secretary is a legal expert
    obama should fire his ass he is a holdover
    from the bush administration who isn’t doing a real good job why keep him

  2. RandyO says

    Excuse me Mr. Gates, is that not why we have three branches of our government? It is to keep each in check with the other. And the last time I checked, the military was NOT one of those three! So, as Walter said, above! lol

  3. Butch says

    The “study”…yeah, a bunch of questions that essentially ask “aren’t you horrified at having to shower with the icky gays?” Obama could do the right thing and just let this ruling stand but apparently the administration will appeal. Obama’s record on gay rights really couldn’t be much worse.

  4. Brian says

    Every moment that our leaders do not stand up and declare this type of entrenched homophobia to be wrong is a moment they decided to do nothing.

    /looks around for “fierce advocate”

  5. says

    Gates is just the messenger. He’s saying what his boss told him to say. So if you’re pissed, aim it at the right person, Obama. If that’s not true, then who the fuck is running the country? are we a republic or a military junta controlled banana republic? Both options are equally infuriating.

  6. MikeInSanJose says

    Our nation’s military must really be fucked up if it is such an insurmountable hardship for them to stop hunting for gays and kicking them out.

    Just stop doing it! What’s the big deal?

  7. says

    Gates is trying to publicly outflank his boss, which strikes me as incredibly uncool. If he has something to say, he can say it privately…but this is ultimately Obama’s call. Gates’ job is to make it happen (should that be the decision) or resign.

  8. TANK says

    We have the requisite data to implement repeal right now. There are many studies which deal specifically with the implementation of repeal that have been conducted since DADT was enacted. The study was a political smokescreen to delay repeal and actual efforts to that end, yet demonstrate some kind of commitment to the rhetoric of repeal in the absence of any effective leadership and progress on this matter in congress and the executive. Waiting on congress, especially after the dems lose control of the house in november, is a bad strategy, because it’s not going to happen; moreso, it didn’t happen even when the dems controlled congress. All this could do is force the military to reassess the timetable of policy change that is already sufficiently understood. The defense secretary is echoing the political strategy of his boss rather than a genuine concern for preparedness and troop wellbeing. To that end, he loses credibility, as the administration has also lost, due to ineffective and largely rhetorical efforts.

    With that said, the best thing that could happen to Obama’s reelection chances would be for the dems to lose control of at least one chamber, because the focus of economic and social criticism wouldn’t fall on him and the dems. However, this conflict of interest clearly runs afoul of any significant progay legislation being passed; quite literally ending hopes of its occurrence for several years to come.

  9. says

    I don’t get it. DADT was made into law and implemented in 1 day. Why can’t it be outlawed in one day. Simply put, it is unconstitutional, so why do people have to suffer under it for one more day….

  10. TANK says

    And Gates is a born bureaucrat. If you believe that every press release he makes hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by the “proper channels,” and greenlighted from the top down, you don’t understand how this is being played, or, quite frankly, how this cabinet operates.

  11. esther blodgett says

    Who can gay people rely on to “set policy”?

    Not the unbelievably shortsighted legislative branch. Certainly not the timid executive branch. Now after the judicial branch has done the right thing and cut through all the hysteria and blind, unfounded prejudice, the Defense Secretary says that judges should not set policy?

    Why doesn’t Secretary Gates propose a policy change? How brave can this country’s soldiers be if they are said to be afraid of some gay people?

    Mr. Gates needs to keep quiet. So does the President, the Senate and the House.

    Let the future come.

  12. Rob says

    I believe Bush II-holdover Gates is simply setting up the situation so his boss can order the DOJ to defend DADT. Now, really, Mr. President, is this the ballsy way Truman acted when integrating the military as a matter of justice and rights for our black citizens? I don’t think so.

  13. salemlawyer says

    The Court did its job, which last time I checked, is not to consult with the Secretary of Defense on the constitutionality of a federal law. Gates needs to STFU and stop opining on things that are none of his business. If a federal court judge says a law is unconstitutional, Gates’ job is to abide by the law as set down by the judge. This isn’t a banana republic where the military dictates the rights of its citizens. A law is either constitutional or it is not. Gates has no business weighing in, since (1) we never elected Bob Gates, and (2) we have a Commander-in-Chief and it ain’t Bob Gates.

    If the President had any backbone, which we all know he lacks, he’d call Bob Gates and tell him to STFU, and not speak about this or any other issue unless directed by his President. Of course, the President is so afraid of the military we have basically had a quiet coup since 2008, where the military dictates policy and the President obeys their commands. I could not stand George W. Bush, but he would never had permitted Gates to speak out on issues like this. Never. He may have been an idiot, but he had some backbone.

    I’m beginning to wonder if spineless and smart is better than tough but stupid.

  14. Zlick says

    Lying sack of shit. The injunction doesn’t require them to DO anything. If they want to re-write regulations and re-design gay and straight restrooms in the Pentagon, they can take the next 5 weeks or 50 years to do it. All they need do to comply with the court that has authority over them is absofuckinglutely nothing. Halting discharges and separations is an act of omission requiring zero effort to implement.

    Oh, and the statement of the top military official that the third branch of government purposed with checking and balancing the others should be ignored is quite dangerous and reeks of, well, treason.

  15. mad1026 says

    Asshole! Shove that fucking homophobic survey up your ass! Virginia Phillips did exactly what she was asked to do; she ruled that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against American citizens who want to serve their country in the Armed Forces. Treat our citizens in the right way!

  16. Michael says

    What planning and strategizing is needed? It’s pretty simple. Those who are mentally affected by serving along side a gay soldier obviously has deep-seeded problems and prejudices that wont be solved by a Pentagon study.

  17. BobN says

    Has any other military in the world “redesigned” their buildings to let gays serve openly?

    I mean, I could see sprucing the place up, adding some color, but actual construction???

  18. Jerry says

    Obama and his surrogate-spokesman are lying cowards. The sooner DADT falls, the sooner the transition can begin to fully integrate gay & lesbian soldiers into the services. Stopping dismissals is crucial to ending DADT.

  19. LincolnLounger says

    More good news from the Administration of our “Fierce Advocate”!

    Gates is the messenger. Be pissed at Obama, who will undoubtedly unleash his Justice Dept. on the appeal.

  20. JimSur212 says

    You really can’t have one district judge in one federal court determining national policy. It would be better if it were a ruling from a full 9th Circuit panel and of course a Supreme Court ruing would be definitive. Just as a single federal judge in San Francisco can’t settle national policy on the constitutionality of gay marriage – it is not good from a precedent standpoint to decide such a significant national issue on the basis of the ruling from a single district court judge, as much as we may like the ruling. We must repeal DADT in one of two ways 1. Congressional Action and Presidential Signature. 2. A Supreme Court ruling. Anything short of those actions will damage the legitimacy of the repeal. I must remind you all that many federal district court judges ruled that gay sex was criminal until the Supreme Court established otherwise. You simply can’t have a single judge determining significant national policy. It gives them too much power. If judicial action is to be the means by which DADT is brought to an end – it must be the Supreme Court. Hopefully, the Democrats in the Senate will act in the lame duck session and this will get done.

  21. says

    thought about this while driving earlier and it probably is the best thing in the world for the obama administration to appeal this

    then after the appellate court it can go to the supreme court and the whole mater settled

    Though politicaly speaking Obama would be better off not appealing till after the elections. They have 60 days to appeal the Dadt ruling

    don’t even touch it till after the elections then the Obama administration appeals which will speed up the process of getting this all settled by the supreme court

  22. mcNnyc says

    They wont appeal util the lame duck session.
    The Congress doesn’t have a budget for the Defense depart. If there is no vote in the Senate or we loose legislatively because of the GOP filibuster THEN our FIERCE ADVOCATE will hide behind his minion Gates.
    Of COURSE Gates is doing the coward obama’s bidding here. Much Like Baucus and Lieberman did to kill the public option and took the hit.

    AND YES I will continue to throw that label FIERCE ADVOCATE sarcastically in his face.
    IF homophobes like Palladino can use Obama’s words on marriage equality then so must we.

  23. Jeff says

    I think some people misunderstand the authority of a federal court. A federal district court, in the person of one of its judges, hearing a case challenging a federal statute absolutely is authorized to — indeed MUST — throw out a statute that violates the constitution. There does not need to be an appeal to any fancier appellate level of federal court. No other court HAS to have a say. That can be it, the end.

    It is a co-equal branch of government. It’s not “third” in the sense that the other two are more important.

    Aside from the fact that this judge isn’t “setting policy” (she’s prohibiting the existing one), a federal court wouldn’t need to set policy if the other two branches wouldn’t violate our fucking constitutional rights. They’ve had many chances to do the right thing, including back in 1993 when Clinton and Congress created this unconstitutional scheme to accommodate antigay soldiers/officers/politicians/voters.

    Fuck the first two branches, who have done so very little for minorities’ rights until the heroic third branch forces them toward a more just nation.

  24. JimSur212 says

    Jeff, You refer to our ” fucking constitutional rights” as if its a given. This is a new area of advancement of rights. In the 1950’s its was against the law for more than 3 homosexuals to gather in the same room in many states. The very idea that homosexuals have any “rights” whatsoever is revolutionary – a relatively new concept made possible by the gay rights movement and the early sacrifices of many who are no longer with us. The very fact that we have a President who we argue about whether he is a fierce advocate or merely a passive advocate is fucking AMAZING! We have made so much progress that I fail to understand all of the bitterness expressed on this site. Don’t attack our friends for not being friendly enough – when our enemies would send us back to the 1950’s if they could. Without the Democrats we’d still be getting arrested for walking into a gay bar. AND NO ONE SHOULD FORGET THAT. But apparently too many posters here are of the “what have you done for me lately” school of thought.

  25. will says

    what kind of “training” is required?? i mean, seriously….are you going to have a powerpoint on how to act around gay people? how to address them? how about addressing them as “Sir” or “Ma’am” just like every other person in the military.

    I’ve been in the service for 4.5 years now, and I’m so sick of these “trainings”. So, what, you’re going to have a powerpoint presentation or an online CBT that involves candid scenarios about what to do when a gay soldier adresses you with a problem? How about how you’d address is with any other person.

    I’m so sick of hearing about this “study” and these “trainings”…stop treating gay people like some kind of alien species and the rest of the folks in the military as idiots who don’t know what gay people are.

  26. Jeff says

    Jimsur212, I understand your point about the evolving recognition of equal rights. But my view is that, since it was written into the Constitution via the 14th Amendment, all citizens have had the right to equal protection of the laws. All of us alive now in the US have had these constitutional rights all along, unrecognized, violated.

    There has never been a good reason to treat gay/lesbian people in a discriminatory manner. Only lately are the courts waking up to this point of view, but it doesn’t make decades/millenia of mistreatment any better.

    I understand the legal/historical/sociological context but I don’t want to drown in it. This DADT policy was wrong in 1993 and it’s wrong today. DOMA was wrong when Clinton signed it, it’s wrong today. It’s just like Justice Kennedy so movingly wrote in the Lawrence v Texas case overturning the wretched Bowers v. Hardwick (which allowed states to criminalize gay sex), it was wrong then and it’s wrong now (I paraphrase). I know how far we’ve come, and I know how bad the enemies are, but I’m impatient for the changes that still need to come. Among other horrors, kids are killing themselves. So I’m sticking with “our fucking constitutional rights” and I’m going to throw in a right to “life, liberty, and the fucking pursuit of happiness.” {stepping off grumpy soapbox}

  27. Robert says

    Why are any of the Bush appointees still in office? WTF is wrong with the White House? If they wouldn’t have hired these people in the first place, they should get rid of them. And if they would hire them, let me know so I can adjust my vote.

    On top of all that, this guy in particular is a near-complete failure as anything other than a mid-level bureaucrat. The idea that he should have anything at all to do with setting policy is ludicrous. At best he should be implementing someone elses’s … Oh.

    Never mind.

  28. Seriously, ? says

    Have you ever hurt a straight guy’s feelings by not being interested in him? Maybe THAT’S what THEY are afraid of — getting their feelings hurt!

    How would you like to be straight and working with a bunch of gay guys who just ignore you? It’s better not to know they are gay.

  29. Randy says

    Gates, of course Congress should have acted, and the President should have acted (to end DADT, not to enforce it like he has been), but the law is unconstitutional, and the US claims to be a country of laws. The Court had no option but to strike down DADT immediately. At least someone is doing their job, while the rest of you cowards and hypocrites run around with your tails between your legs. You want to know why you’re losing the election? Look in the mirror.

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