Moments ago, in a press conference announcing the results of the Pentagon’s 10-month review of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Working Group co-chairs Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, concluded that the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low and Gates even urged Congress to act on repeal before the Courts overturn the policy. “Now that we have completed this review, I strongly urge the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the president for signature before the end of this year,” he said. “It is only a matter of time before the federal courts are drawn once more into the fray, with the very real possibility that this change would be imposed immediately by judicial fiat – by far the most disruptive and damaging scenario I can imagine, and the one most hazardous to military morale, readiness and battlefield performance.”
Johnson added that resistance to repeal “is driven by misperceptions and stereotypes,” and predicted that lifting the ban would not result in a mass coming out of gay troops. “We believe that most would continue to be private and discreet about their personal lives,” he said in a prepared statement.
A summary of the results of the survey sent to 400,000 service members as outlined by the two chairmen:
– 70% of Service members said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay servicemember in their immediate units.
– 69% said they worked in a unit with a co-worker that they believed to be homosexual.
– 92% stated that their unit’s “ability to work together,” with a gay person was “very good, “good” or “neither good nor poor.” (89% for those in Army combat arms units, 84% for those in Marine combat arms units.)
– 30% overall (and 40–60% in the Marine Corps and in various combat arms specialties) expressed negative views or concerns about the impact of a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The Wonk Room has much more on the Group’s recommendations for implementing repeal and how this survey compares to past military questionnaires.
President Obama released the following statement today:
Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families—more than two thirds—are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian. This report also confirms that, by every measure—from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness—we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security. And for the first time since this law was enacted 17 years ago today, both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly endorsed ending this policy.
With our nation at war and so many Americans serving on the front lines, our troops and their families deserve the certainty that can only come when an act of Congress ends this discriminatory policy once and for all. The House of Representatives has already passed the necessary legislation. Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally. Our troops represent the virtues of selfless sacrifice and love of country that have enabled our freedoms. I am absolutely confident that they will adapt to this change and remain the best led, best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever known.