Last month, a judge ruled that the military's 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bars gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the armed forces, is unconstitutional. The Justice Department appealed the ruling and the repeal was put on hold. But a just-leaked Pentagon study reveals that the ban can be lifted with little effect on the country's ability to fight.
Earlier this year, President Obama ordered the Pentagon to study the possible effects of striking down DADT and has long said that he wants to wait for the results of that probe — due to him by December 1 — before he makes a decision.
On Thursday (November 11), the Washington Post, quoting two people familiar with a draft of the report, said that it will say that the military's lifting of the ban would result in "minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts."
According to the Post, more than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops this summer said the effects of a repeal would be "positive, mixed or nonexistent." Those results reportedly led the survey's authors to conclude that objections to gay troops would drop once they were able to live and serve openly with their peers.
A source who'd read the report in full spoke to the paper out of concern that groups opposed to the repeal would mischaracterize the findings and add fire to what promises to be a very heated debate in Congress, which must ultimately pass legislation ending the ban.
The first part of the 370-page report details the results of the surveys, which were sent to 400,000 active and reserve troops and 150,000 military spouses, while the second half presents a plan for ending the ban.
A majority of respondents to the survey said they had no strong objections to having an openly gay person in a unit, and that a gay soldier's presence would not have an effect in an intense combat situation. A "significant minority" is opposed to serving alongside openly gay troops. Among the few hard figures cited is a concern among 40 percent of the Marine Corps about lifting the ban.
Countering the predictions of those opposed to the policy's repeal, the report does not anticipate a massive "coming out" by gay and lesbian soldiers should DADT be overturned.
Though the House has already included language that would repeal the ban in its annual defense authorization bill, the Senate version was stalled due to a Republican filibuster. The Post said it was unclear whether the matter would be taken up in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, which is slated to start next week.
Proponents of lifting the ban have urged Congress to vote on the repeal during the lame-duck session, fearing that the recently elected Republican majority in the House and the more robust GOP presence in the Senate could provide a roadblock.