Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he will not finalize repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law before he leave office next week, but he expects his successor to end the controversial ban on openly gay troops in late July or early August.
In an interview with Agence France Presse on Thursday, Gates said he has been working behind the scenes to make sure incoming Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has the paperwork and information he needs to act quickly on the repeal, which Congress authorized last December.
After the defense secretary, joint chiefs chairman and president certify that a repeal will not hurt military readiness, gay troops will still face a 60-day waiting period before the law is officially repealed. More than 14,000 gay servicemembers have been kicked out of the military under the law since 1993.
Read 'Next Pentagon chief will formally end gay ban: Gates' from AFP.