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"Our military must be afforded the opportunity to inform us of their concerns, insights and suggestions if we are to carry out this change successfully," Gates and Mullen wrote to the committee's chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo).
Gates has said he supports repealing the 1993 law, known as "don't ask, don't tell." He has ordered a study that will investigate if housing arrangements should be changed and whether gay partners would be allowed military benefits. It is due in December.
If Congress acts before then, "it would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter," he and Mullen wrote.
Gay rights advocates were quick to protest Friday's letter.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told the AP that if Congress doesn't act this year it would send the message to gay troops that "the impact on them and their families does not matter to the military leadership, including their commander in chief."
President Obama has said "don't ask, don't tell" unfairly punishes patriotic Americans and asked Congress to repeal it.
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