Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Navy sailors serving in the Arabian Sea today that despite the push from him and other Pentagon leaders, the military's ban on gays serving openly is likely to continue into the next year.
Gates said that he was "not particularly optimistic" that Congress would overturn the policy soon, even though he wishes it would.
The New York Times reports that Gates reiterated his support for a legislative repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, warning — as he did last month — that if Congress doesn't put an end to DADT in a way the military wants, the courts might do it in a way that could be tougher for the armed forces to implement. From the Times:
[Gates'] greatest fear, he said, is that "we will be told to implement it without any time for preparation for training, any of the other efforts that need to be undertaken to prepare us for such a change."
Gates seems to think that the Senate will not find the time in the lame duck session to hit President Obama's goal of ending DADT by the end of 2010. Supporters of repeal say they have the votes to get the job done, but worry that the legislative calendar the way it's currently written won't allow a vote to take place.
Should the Senate fail to pass a repeal of the ban — already approved the House — most speculate that ending the ban legislatively in the next Congress could take a very long time if it's possible at all.