November 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm EDT | by Staff reports
Activist organizations praise ‘Don’t Ask’ report

Supporters of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this week praised the Comprehensive Review Working Group Report on the military’s gay ban. Below is a roundup of reaction from various groups working for repeal.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network called it “overwhelmingly positive and constructive.”

“The Pentagon validated what repeal advocates and social scientists have been saying about open service for over a decade,” wrote SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis. “Still, some initial resistance may come from one or more of the service chiefs – the very leaders who will be charged with implementing this change. Those chiefs will need to salute and lead in bringing about this needed change. Fortunately, the chiefs have already made it clear they will do precisely that if Congress acts. Now, it’s up to the Senate to make repeal happen this year.”

Servicemembers United, another gay group, also praised the findings.

“This thorough and comprehensive report makes clear to lawmakers and the American people once and for all that the U.S. military is capable of handling the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The questions are now answered and the debate is now settled,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“It’s now up to the Senate to bring the defense authorization bill back to the floor, allow 10 to 20 amendments to be debated on each side, and get this bill passed,” he said. “We have the votes now if the process is fair.”

OutServe, a network of actively serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces, also released a statement.

“This report definitely answers the question of the impact of DADT repeal on the military. Specifically, knowing a soldier is gay has no negative impact on readiness,” said OutServe’s Jonathan Hopkins, former Army Captain and veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ve known this for a long time.”

And the Palm Center issued a joint statement from 30 professors and scholars in response to the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group Report on gays in the military:

“The debate about the evidence is now officially over” according to current and former academics at the Army War College, Naval Academy, West Point, Air Force Academy, Naval Post Graduate School, Naval War College, Air Command and Staff College and National Defense University as well as civilian universities including Harvard, Yale and Princeton. “The only remaining rationale for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is prejudice.”

And from the Human Rights Campaign came this statement from President Joe Solmonese: “This issue has been studied for 50 years, including by the military itself, and the results from over 22 studies are uniform: open service does not harm effectiveness. The small handful of senators blocking repeal no longer have any fig leaves behind which to hide. The time for repeal is now.”

SLDN pointed out several key findings from the report, including:

• When asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with a co-worker who they believed was gay or lesbian, 92 percent stated that the unit’s “ability to work together” was “very good,” “good” or “neither good nor poor.”

• When asked about how having a service member in their immediate unit who said he or she is gay would affect the unit’s ability to “work together to get the job done,” 70 percent of service members predicted it would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.

• When asked “in your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a co-worker that you believed to be homosexual,” 69 percent of service members reported that they had.

• In communications with gay and lesbian current and former service members, the report’s authors repeatedly heard a patriotic desire to serve and defend the nation, subject to the same rules as everyone else.

• The report’s authors are convinced that the U.S. military can do this, even during this time of war. They do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should “we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated Service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our Nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.”

• The report researchers found “the risk of repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to overall military effectiveness is low.”

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