Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would strongly prefer legislative action by Congress to repeal the policy that bans homosexuals from serving openly in the military, rather than to see the ban repealed immediately by court order, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Gates said extensive training and regulatory changes were needed to ensure that the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is repealed in an orderly way to minimize the impact on U.S. forces.
A federal judge in California issued an injunction on Tuesday to immediately stop enforcement of the 17-year-old policy, ordering the government to suspend and discontinue all pending discharge proceedings and investigations under way.
"I feel very strongly that this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress and that it is an action that requires careful preparation and a lot of training," Gates told reporters on his plane when asked his reaction to the decision by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips.
Legislation to repeal the policy stalled in Congress last month but the White House and its Democratic allies plan to try again after the November congressional election. President Barack Obama has made repeal a priority.
Gates has voiced support for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" but wants any legislative changes to take effect after the Pentagon completes its own review later this year.
Gates said the Pentagon review, which includes surveys of service members and their spouses, should not be rushed.
"One of the results of the review will be what kind of other changes we need to make, whether it's in terms of benefits or physical plan. This is a very complex business. It has enormous consequences for our troops," Gates said.