AP10103006460Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appealed strongly to the Senate to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members within the next month, telling reporters Tuesday that the Pentagon's most comprehensive study of troop opinion found there would be little risk to repealing "Don't ask, don't tell."
Gates mentioned by name the most passionate defender of the military's gay ban, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who has said this study -- which takes into account the survey responses of 115,000 troops and 44,000 military spouses -- is not comprehensive enough to authorize a repeal. McCain has strongly opposed repeal of the ban, and had heretofore insisted that Congress refrain from acting on the question before consulting the results of the Pentagon study. Now that those results seem to favor supporters of repeal, McCain and other backers of "Don't ask, don't tell" face a dilemma: how to keep making their case when not merely influential military leaders, but rank-and-file soldiers appear to have no serious problem with gays openly serving in the military.
McCain's approach has been to suggest the study itself is inadequate.
"In this respect I think he's mistaken," Gates said. "This does provide a sound basis for drawing conclusions on this law...It's hard for me to imagine that you could come up with a more comprehensive approach."
McCain's spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan, told The Lookout in an email that the senator is "currently in the process of carefully reviewing the Pentagon's report." She did not comment on whether the recommendations will sway the senator to support repeal.
Such a move seems unlikely, though, since many of the report's findings were leaked weeks ago -- and as the preliminary results became public, McCain kept up his opposition to repeal. He made a point of assailing the report itself as inadequate. Over the weekend, McCain said the ban on openly gay service members is "working."Read More »from After strong appeal from Pentagon, opponents of ‘Don’t ask’ repeal ponder next move