Washington (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pushing back against liberal criticism that he trying to slow walk the repeal of the military’s "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Rather, Gates told CNN the change needs to be done in a way that does not disrupt the armed services.
The Defense Department is currently conducting an internal review of the policy, which will eventually lead to allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. Late last month, Gates sent a letter to a leading Democrat on Capitol Hill where he urged Congress not to get out in front on the Pentagon on this issue.
"I know there's some that are suspicious out there that this is some kind of effort to slow roll this process," Gates says in an interview set to air Monday on CNN's John King, USA. "But as I said in that testimony, I've led several huge public institutions and I've led change in every one of them and there's a smart way to do change, and there's a stupid way to do change. This one has to be done smart.
"And I think it's only fair as we get ready to make this change that we give our force the opportunity to tell us how they feel about it, for us to find out their concerns, for us to identify the challenges we're going to face if Congress does change the law, and how we will go about doing that, and how we will mitigate negative consequences by what we hear from the force. And so I've said this is not about whether, but about how, and that continues to be our position."
Legislating a change to the policy before the military's review was done "would send a very negative signal to men and women in uniform that their views on this and how it should be done, don't matter," Gates added.
Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently called on President Obama asking for "immediate action" on the planned policy change. In the open letter to the president, Dean expressed concern that the Defense Department could, "indefinitely delay the possibility of moving forward with the repeal of DADT until the Pentagon completes a review of the policy."
Obama called for a repeal of the policy during his first State of the Union address in January. Although Obama and Gates favor eliminating the policy, the change can only be made legislatively by congressional action.
Updated: 4:30 p.m.
– CNN's Adam Levine and Charles Riley contributed to this report.
DADT = the stupid way. TRUTH = smart way. Why the confusion?
By "smartly" Gates means "not al all."
What a pig.
Must be "done smartly"??!!! What the heck is he talking about? He's part of the great Obama administration where everything is an emergency and must be done immediately because the world is going to end if it isn't. No time to think or read or study. Just run full speed with eyes closed towards that cliff and yell Geronamo!
i see how its a sticky issue but for real, either hit the gas peddle and make it happen or drop the issue and move on. its not going to be a win win situation for anyone. people are going to be mad in what/how ever things change. they are saying its not a "when" but "how". the how is already here. sex lives of anyone should not be part of the military. you signed your name on that paper work to become gov. property and follow orders. men and women now work and live next to their gay counterparts. gay or straight, keep your sexuality to yourself in the military as your jobs depend on team work and not who you sleep with.
The real vote he will have to explain to his constituency is the vote of confidence for the Kenyan/Indonesian in the WH.
let the generals decide.... there wont be a hand full of gay that want to be in the military anyway,,,get over it...
During our struggle against the Brits back in the mid 1700's, a military gentlemen from I think Prussia came here and saved our courntry by training our rag tag army to fight. It was because of this man that we defeated the Brits. He was 'gay'. Enough said on that subject. Get rid of the silly laws and let's just work together, gay or otherwise.
The CIC being a Third World person, is what instructs this cabinet member. Gates isn't expressing his opinion – he had none; he's expressing the wishes of BHO.
A new policy: "Don't ask smartly, don't answer stupidly"
I'm just glad we are finally talking about how to change this horrible policy instead of if it should be changed.
If it doesn't come up for a vote in 2010, I'm not voting for any democrat on the national ticket
Lets be very clear why this needs to be handled carefully: So we do not upset the sensibilities of bigoted, narrow-minded people. As long as we are clear on that. We are having to hand hold members of the Flat Earth Society the same we had to hold their hands when black Americans received their rights, when women received the right to vote, and the way we are continuing to do for people out-of-their-mind terrified of a black president.
What about the sensibilities of the people whose rights have been stomped on? The sensbilities of people who WANT to risk their lives to defend this country!
Gates, you ain't fooling anyone. You are late for your teabag meeting. Please get with them to see what other ways we can drag this country back to the dark ages.
Make the change. Do it now. Let the Bible thumpers recover in a revival tent somewhere. We have no time for this kind of backward thinking.
Obama is toying with you.
He offers us hospital visitation rights.......big deal......plus "DADT" will take years to be repealed.
But what does he say to what we really want....gay marriage and all the rights that go with it?......Obama says NO, NO, NO.
Is this the change you voted for?
"No time to think or read or study. "
And a few months ago, you and the rest of the conservatard Limbot parrots were complaining bitterly that Obama was taking time to study the situation in Afghanistan, ordering research to be done and reports to be written, meeting with the cabinet and military advisors, etc., instead of uncritically doing what ONE person said he should do, i.e., send thousands of young people off to Afghanistan, horrible conditions, extreme danger and a sentence of having a high likelihood of suffering PTSD for the rest of their lives...if they lived. He's made almost all of his decisions in that manner, but facts and evidence clearly play no role in your processing of reality (hint: reality doesn't have "versions"). I'll keep pointing it out when you people talk out of both sides of your mouths, but it really is getting tiring. "Say anything" is not a strategery likely to generate many credible arguments or worthwhile solutions and progress.
Mr. Gates, are you saying the military gets to vote pro or con on what they want policy to be? When did that start?
Just do what is right........get rid of DADT
Our military will adjust – just like it did when it was integrated with African-American personnel.
As long as everyone adheres to the military code of conduct, things will be fine.
@gt – there are already more than a bunch of gays in the military. Some of them, unfortunately, have been dismissed even though their knowledge of Arabic dialects is higher than those who are not gay.
I guess being a bigot is more important than knowing what the terrorists are saying about us.
@Message togays Obama said all through his campaign he was not for gay marriage – he was for a civil union, but he does believe gays should be treated fairly, hence the wanting to repel DADT, allowing gays into hospital rooms and gays on each others insurance – Obama does things right, not shooting from the hip fast like Bush just to make lots of mistakes – this is the change I voted for!!!
I really don't understand why its going to take the military over a year to strike down DADT – its simple – if your gay no big deal we don't care, welcome to the military -DONE!!
There are gays in the military today. There have been gays in the military since Washington. After all these years, if gays were really any kind of hindrance to military performance there would be a clear record. Instead, the only violation gays routinely violate is DADT.
There's another term that applies to gays, whether in military or civilian life. "American citizens". They should be treated as such.
They should introduce legislation with a timeline to repeal DADT on Dec 2nd that would put a halt to discharges under the policy until the study is complete, since the Obama administration is already saying it's "not if but how" anyway. That way the study can be completed without hurting the feelings of the conservatives least effected by it, and service members like myself don't have to use a fake name just to speak out on the issue in fear of losing our career, education benefits, and plans for our future!
Let's just do what's fair and do it now.