Gates urges Senate to end military ban on gays

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WASHINGTON - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates pressed forward with plans to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, urging the Senate to repeal the controversial 1993 law by the end of the year.

Gates presented Tuesday a comprehensive report he commissioned when he announced in February plans to repeal the law, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which allows gays and lesbians to serve as long as they keep their sexual preference secret.

The completion of the report is seen as a key step for President Barack Obama and Gates to get rid of the policy and push a repeal through the Senate. Republicans blocked passage of a repeal in September, many of them arguing the Pentagon should first complete the report.

The report outlines attitudes throughout the ranks of military about gays serving openly, and explores ways to implement an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell” without disrupting discipline or harming the readiness of the armed forces to fight.

Gates said a survey taken throughout the ranks showed that more than two-thirds believed allowing gays to serve openly would not cause problems.

But Gates said he was troubled by another finding that showed 40 to 60 percent of those in all-male combat and special forces units expressed concerns about openly-serving gays. He said that would not deter efforts to repeal the law.

“The concerns as expressed in the survey do not present an insurmountable barrier to successful repeal of don’t ask, dont tell,” Gates said.

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