WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday reassured U.S. warfighters in Iraq that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will have little impact on the armed forces, an argument largely echoed by the top leaders of the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy.
Visiting troops at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Gates was asked when repeal of the 17-year-old policy commonly known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” would occur and what its effect would be.
“My guess is you won’t see much change at all because the whole thrust of the training is you’re supposed to go on treating everybody like you’re supposed to be treating everybody now, with dignity, respect and discipline,” Gates told the troops. “And the same kind of military discipline that applies to — and regulations that apply to heterosexual relationships — will apply in terms of homosexual relationships.”
In Washington, leaders from the four services testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the implementation of the new policy. Several expressed reservations last December when a divided Congress voted to repeal the law and President Barack Obama signed the legislation.
The repeal did not occur immediately as training and certification by the department were required before the ban is lifted. Training for the service members began around March 1 and is slated to be finished by summer’s end.