By American Forces Press ServiceDecember 15, 2010
WASHINGTON (Dec. 15, 2010) -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is pleased with today's House of Representatives vote to repeal the law that bans gays from serving openly in the military, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said, and he hopes the Senate will follow suit before its current session ends.
The House voted 250-175 to repeal the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, and Senate action is required for the bill to go to President Barack Obama's desk for signature.
The president has advocated the law's repeal, and Gates and other military leaders repeatedly have expressed a preference for legislative action, which they say would permit an orderly transition for the military, over having the law struck down by a court, requiring immediate compliance with the change and possibly creating different rules in different places.
"[The secretary] encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts," Morrell said.
In a statement released by the White House, Obama praised House leaders for moving forward on repeal.
"I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010," the president said. "Legislative repeal is supported by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks.
"Indeed," he continued, "all of the service chiefs have said that when this law is changed, they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently. As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security."
Obama thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue.
"I have consistently called for the repeal of this law," he said. "Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves. We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country."