Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates are in Australia for the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, and the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military was raised during a roundtable discussion they had with Australian and American reporters.
A U.S. district judge in California ruled the law unconstitutional, but an appeals court stayed the judge’s decision until the appeal process is finished.
The chairman expressed surprise at comments raising questions about repealing the law by Gen. James F. Amos, the new commandant of the Marine Corps, during an interview with the Los Angeles Times, noting that he and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are relying on the report of the working group to inform their decision.
Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, are co-chairs of the group. Their deadline to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is Dec. 1.
“I have great confidence that the review is tracking and will come in on time,” Mullen said. “I’ve met with all the service chiefs several times, and [they] understand the process, as well as the timing of all this.”
Mullen said that while it is important that the service chiefs give their advice, they should do so privately.
President Barack Obama, Gates and Mullen are on record favoring a repeal of the law, which was enacted in 1994, but defense leaders want any change to take place in a deliberate manner. Gates has said the services will need time to put processes, training and policies in place if Congress repeals the law.