Friday, December 03, 2010

Pentagon study: Gays could serve without harm

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon study on gays in the military has determined that overturning the law known as "don't ask, don't tell" might cause some disruption at first but would not create any widespread or long-lasting problems.

The study provided ammunition to congressional Democrats struggling to overturn the law. Even with the release of Tuesday's study, however, there was no indication they could overcome fierce Republican objections with just a few weeks left in the year-ending session of Congress. Democrats will be in the minority when Congress reconvenes in early January.

"We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war," wrote the study co-chairs Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said Congress should act quickly because of a recent effort by a federal judge to overturn the law.

Gates said the military needs time to prepare for such a change, even though he said he did not envision any changes to personnel policy that would be needed. He said a sudden court-issued mandate would significantly increase the risk of causing disruption to the force.

"Given the present circumstances, those that choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts," Gates told reporters.

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