WASHINGTON — A proposal to step up the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military but still allow the Pentagon time — perhaps even years — to implement new policies won the White House's backing Monday after administration officials met with gay rights activists.
The White House budget office sent a letter supporting the proposal to remove the "don't ask, don't tell" law even as the Pentagon reviews the system. Implementation of policy for gays serving openly would still require the approval of President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, would have to approve implementing any such policy.
"The proposed amendment will allow for completion of the comprehensive review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention," budget chief Peter Orszag wrote in a letter to Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Pennsylvania Democrat leading the repeal in the House.
Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, was expected to introduce the legislative proposal today. A vote could come as early as Thursday.
The White House had hoped lawmakers would delay action until Pentagon officials had completed their study so fellow Democrats would not face criticism that they moved too quickly or too far ahead of public opinion in this election year. Instead, administration officials recognized they could not stop Congress in its effort to repeal the 1993 ban.