Gates to Marine: You can’t opt out of Don’t Ask repeal

Liz Goodwin

While touring Afghanistan this weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Marines they better get used to the coming policy change that will allow gays and lesbians to openly serve.

"Sir, we joined the Marine Corps because the Marine Corps has a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector. And we have gone and changed those values and repealed the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy," a Marine sergeant told Gates on Sunday in a question-and-answer session. "We have not given the Marines a chance to decide whether they wish to continue serving under that. Is there going to be an option for those Marines that no longer wish to serve due to the fact their moral values have not changed?"

Reuters described Gates' reply:

"No," Gates responded. "You'll have to complete your ... enlistment just like everybody else. The reality is that you don't all agree with each other on your politics, you don't agree with each other on your religion, you don't agree with each other on a lot of things," he added. "But you still serve together. And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that's all that matters."

"If we do this right, nothing will change," he added.

Meanwhile, the Army has launched a webpage dedicated to the shift. In a video, Army Chief General George Casey--who was resistant to the repeal when he testified in front of Congress before its passage--reminds soldiers that the new policy won't be in place until 60 days after Gates, the president, and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify it, which hasn't happened yet. He also says training for the new policy isn't intended to be a forum for debate over its merits, and says leaders must show "visible and unequivocal" support for repeal.

(Gates: Alex Brandon/AP)

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