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Congressman Buck McKeon wants to go slow on dropping 'don't ask, don't tell'

Congressman Buck McKeon
Congressman Buck McKeon
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates today strongly urged the U.S. Senate to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays and lesbians in the armed forces. But the incoming head of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee wants to delay action until Congress holds hearings on the issue.

Republican Congressman Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita says he’s never served in the military, and he’s only heard stories about how allowing openly gay soldiers would affect the troops. He wants to delay a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” until Congress can convene hearings.

He says he's "been here long enough to know that generally when you rush things through or jam something through without really going regular order and giving people a chance to really flesh things out and really look at issues in depth, you make some big mistakes."

The Pentagon briefed the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee before it released its survey of military personnel. McKeon calls that report a first step in what should be a “comprehensive process” to find out whether dropping “don’t ask, don’t tell” would “undermine military readiness or negatively impact the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.”