November 11, 2010 at 11:26 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Pentagon ‘Don’t Ask’ study favorable to open service: report

The upcoming Pentagon working group report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will show gays can serve openly in the U.S. military with minimal incidents of risk to current war efforts, according to the Washington Post.

The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that the results of a survey sent to 400,000 U.S. service members over the summer as part of the working group’s efforts will reveal that more than 70 percent of respondents think the effect of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be positive, mixed or nonexistent.

Consequently, the survey results reportedly led study authors to conclude that objections to gays serving openly in the U.S. military would drop after the implementation of open service. Their deadline for completing the study and delivering it to Defense Secretary Robert Gates is Dec. 1.

According to the Washington Post, the document is about 370 pages long and is divided into two sections. The first section examines whether ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would harm unit readiness or morale. The second part offers a plan for ending enforcement of the law. This second section is not meant to serve as the military’s official instruction manual on the issue, but could be used as such if military leaders agreed.

The leaked findings could bolster efforts to move “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal through Congress before the year’s end in the lame duck session. A number of key U.S. senators have said they want to see the results of the survey before legislatively acting on the military’s gay ban.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the leaked survey results confirm what “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal advocates have already been saying in their efforts to build support for ending the law.

“These results confirm what those of us who actually know the modern military, especially the rank and file troops, have said all along. The men and women of America’s armed forces are professionals who are capable of handling this policy change,” Nicholson said. “In light of these findings, as well as the Secretary of Defense’s recent call for Senate action on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session, there is no longer any excuse for failing to bring the defense authorization bill back up during the first week of the post-election legislative session.”

Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a think-tank on gays in the military, said the leaked survey results have effectively ended the debate on whether gays should serve openly in the military.

“A measure of the full report is still needed and there are undoubtedly adjustments that will need to be considered as any transition to openly gay service moves forward,” Belkin said. “However, the Pentagon itself has made the strongest case for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in stating that this can be done during wartime without harming unit cohesion or military readiness.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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