US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy regarding gay and lesbian service members is unlikely to be changed any time soon.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, he said: “The president and I feel like we’ve got a lot on our plates right now and let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”

“It continues to be the law and any change in policy would require a change in the law,” Gates said. “We will follow the law, whatever it is.

“That dialogue, though, has really not progressed very far at this point in the administration,” he added.
In January, Obama’s press secretary said the administration was planning to end the gay ban.

Responding to a question on whether the administration would repeal the policy, he said: “You don’t hear a politician give a one-word answer much, but it’s ‘Yes.'”

Earlier this month, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said that President Obama was consulting advisors on changing the policy.

The policy was introduced in 1994 and allows gay men and women to serve in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret and do not engage in any homosexual acts.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defence Network, nearly 12,500 servicemen and women have been discharged under it since its implementation.

It is estimated that up to 45,000 Americans have been discouraged from joining or remaining in the armed forces due to the policy.