A Defense Department study group has found that the United States could lift its ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military with little risk to current war efforts, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
“More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent,” the Post said, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the document, due to be delivered to President Barack Obama on December 1.
“The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them,” the Post reported.
The survey was sent earlier this year to 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops, and a separate questionnaire was sent to about 150,000 military spouses.
The White House is pushing for repeal of the US “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year in a lame duck session of Congress, well aware that it will be even tougher to end the 17-year ban when Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives next year.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Sunday he would like to see the ban repealed this year, but added: “I’m not sure what the prospects for that are.”
Republican opposition to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has stiffened since their victory in mid-term elections last week, dimming prospects for action in Congress.
Supporters remain hopeful repeal will be enacted despite the slipping political ground.
Jarrod Chlapowski, field director at Servicemembers United, a gay rights group, said this week: “There is still a very good chance in the lame duck session to go forward on a bill that respects both sides of the aisle.”
But he acknowledged it was going to be difficult — “not because of the votes but because of the time. There is very little time.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for a gay Republican group have filed an appeal over the law with the Supreme Court.
A lower court judge had ruled it infringed on the civil liberties of gays, but an appeals court later stayed the court’s order to repeal the law.
Copyright © 2010 AFP