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Anti-’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Legislators Praise Gates’ Rules Change, With Caveats

Lt. Choi may not be so satisfied with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ decision to relax “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” enforcement, but it’s being greeted warmly by sponsors of legislation in the Senate to repeal the ban on open gay military service. “I am confident that Secretary Gates and our military leadership would not have taken these initial measures to halt the discharge of many gay Americans if they did not enhance the readiness of our Armed Forces,” said the bill’s principle sponsor, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), in a prepared statement.

In the same statement, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the policy was now “somewhat more humane” but urged Gates to go further and simply “suspend discharges based solely on sexual orientation” until a Pentagon-ordered study of how to repeal the ban is complete. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) was more sanguine in the statement, calling Gates’ move “a major shift in thinking, and tangible progress toward the elimination of this discriminatory policy.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) added that the group “won’t rest until ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is repealed.”

In the House, a man who wants to join them, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) — a Senate hopeful and retired three-star admiral — said in a separate statement that while he was encouraged by Gates’ revisions,

“it is my firm conviction that these new procedures do not go far enough. If unfortunately we are to spend a year studying the impact of repeal, our military and troops cannot be left in limbo throughout this process. President Obama should sign an executive order — relying on the same ‘stop-loss’ authority used to extend tours of duty — to halt all dismissals under this policy.”

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