Published January 28, 2010
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen will unveil next week the steps necessary to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday.
The military officials will lay out their plan when they testify in front of the Senate Armed Services next Tuesday.
"This is not a legislative proposal that the Pentagon will be bringing to the Hill" a senior Pentagon official added. "Rather it's an assessment of steps that need to be taken internally to get to the point to change the law."
The Senate committee has designated a separate full hour session on top of a previously scheduled testimony from Gates and Mullen on the defense budget to talk about the law that bans gays from serving openly which is enforced by the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
In June, Gates said he was working with his defense lawyers to find a way to make that policy more "humane." He said he'd like to ease punishments on gays who were exposed by a third party. No updates on that effort have been offered yet, but Gates will be prepared to address that as well on Tuesday, a senior defense official said.
Gates and the military leadership have been working for some time on the implementation plan. Both Gates and Mullen had multiple conversations with President Obama on the topic leading up to the president's State of the Union speech Wednesday night, the official told Fox News.
When Obama asked Congress to repeal the law in the speech, Gates stood and applauded, while Mullen and the Joint Chiefs remained stoic.
A source close to Mullen said the rest of the chiefs follow Mullen's lead and will clap only when he does. On Wednesday night, Mullen did not feel it was appropriate to show either support or contempt for such a politically charged issue, the source said.
Morrell did not provide any examples of what steps need to be taken before the Pentagon can consider lifting the ban.
Last April in a speech to the Army War College Gates said lifting the ban needs to be done carefully.