Commentary: Pentagon report proves 'don't ask, don't tell' should end

The Sacramento BeeDecember 1, 2010 

What can opponents of ending the discriminatory, destructive "don't ask, don't tell" law possibly say now?

Their last, best defense for preventing gay Americans from openly serving in the military was blown apart Tuesday when the Pentagon said the ban could be lifted with minimal risk even during wartime, and that doing so would not cause any widespread or lasting disruption to readiness or unit cohesion.

Unveiling the long-awaited study, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen strongly urged Congress to repeal the law. They said legislation passed by elected representatives – and with enough time to prepare for the transition – is far preferable to a court order that could force the change immediately.

The report said that while moral and religious objections to homosexuality should be taken seriously, many fears are unfounded. And to end "don't ask, don't tell," the military would not have to rewrite rules on housing, benefits or fraternization.

The nine-month review included a survey of active duty troops and reservists; 70 percent said that repealing the law would have positive, mixed or no effects. Significantly, more than two-thirds said they have served with someone they believed was gay, and of those, 92 percent said their unit's ability to work together was fine. Only 8 percent said unit cohesion was poor or very poor.

Opposition was strongest among combat troops, particularly Marines. But their concerns are not an "insurmountable barrier" to ending the law, Gates said.

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