Continued from page 1

But Mr. Sarvis added: “Let’s not forget that gay and lesbian troops are fired for reasons other than third-party outings. The Pentagon will continue to process hundreds of [don’t ask, don’t tell] discharges this year and thousands of service members will leave the services on their own because of [the policy]. This is why Congress must step up to the plate and repeal the law this year to bring these discharges to zero.”

Mr. Gates last month announced a working-group study, led by a four-star general and the Pentagon general counsel, to find out how to end the ban and what impact it will have on the armed forces. Democrats have not announced when a vote will take place. Some have argued that Congress should vote even before the Gates-ordered study is completed by Dec. 1.

Mr. Gates said Thursday that he opposes a vote before the study is finished.

“I do not recommend a change in the law before we have completed our study,” he said. “There is a great deal we don’t know about this in terms of the views of our service members, in terms of the views of their families and influencers.”

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, issued a short statement noting that the ban is refined but stays in place.

“I would like to draw your attention to his opposition to any efforts by congressional Democrats to move prematurely to either overturn the law or institute a moratorium before the study on the ramifications of overturning the law has been completed,” Mr. McKeon said.

Mr. Gates took the unusual step Thursday of rebuking a senior officer, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Army forces in the Pacific. Gen. Mixon sent a letter to soldiers urging them to tell Washington to keep the ban.

“I think that for an active-duty officer to comment on an issue like this is inappropriate,” Mr. Gates said.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs chairman and an advocate for repealing the ban, appeared with Mr. Gates. He called Gen. Mixon’s letter “inappropriate.”

Adm. Mullen said officers who oppose Mr. Obama’s policies always have the option of quitting.

“In the end, if there is either policy direction that someone in uniform disagrees with, and I’ve said this before, and you feel so strongly about it, the answer is not advocacy,” Adm. Mullen said. “It is in fact to vote with your feet.”