WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the first time is outlining potential Obama Administration plans to selectively enforce the "don't ask don't tell" ban on gays in the military so that some gays could serve.
Gates says he is now looking at ways to make the ban "more humane" including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover. The remarks were made in a transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon.
In addition, Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday the chairman "supports the idea of a less draconian way of enforcing the policy."
Gates told reporters traveling with him, "One of the things we're looking at - is there flexibility in how we apply this law?" As the "don't ask don't tell" law now stands, anyone who is openly gay in the military is expelled if they are found out.
Gates indicated he is looking at several options. "Let me give you an example. Do we need to be driven when the information, to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted."
Gates said he has discussed the issue with President Obama and also during a meeting with his top war-fighting commanders last week. At that military meeting Gates said. "The issue that we face is that how do we begin to do preparations and simultaneously the administration move forward in terms of asking the Congress to change the law."
Obama has been criticized for not moving fast enough to propose a repeal of the ban to Congress. Gates did not indicate the Pentagon was yet supporting a full repeal.
"What we have is a law - be it a policy or a regulation - and as I discovered when I got into it, it's a very prescriptive law. It doesn't leave much to the imagination for a lot of flexibility. And so one of the things we're looking at - is there flexibility in how we apply this law."
The secretary appears to be proposing interim measures. "If somebody is outed by a third party … does that force us to take an action? And I don't know the answer to that, and I don't want to pretend to. But that's the kind of thing we're looking at to see if there's at least a more humane way to apply the law until the law gets changed."