Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also urged the Senate to act quickly, warning that the military doesn’t want change imposed by “judicial fiat.” Speaking at the Pentagon, he alluded to a recent string of court opinions calling the legal viability of the current policy into doubt.
A repeal forced by the courts would be the most damaging scenario imaginable, he said. Those who choose not to act legislatively “are rolling the dice” that “change won’t be forced by the courts.”
Both Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen back a repeal of the law.
There is, however, strong minority opposition to a change, particularly in the Marines and some combat arms specialist units, according to the chairs of the study, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham.
As many as 40 to 60 percent of troops in those units were against changing the 17-year-old policy that lets gay and lesbian troops serve as long as their sexual orientation is secret.
Overall opposition throughout the military was about 30 percent — roughly the same as it is in America as a whole, according to recent findings from CNN/Opinion Research Corp. and the Pew Forum.