repeal the ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy because the
presence of gays in the military is unlikely to undermine
the ability to fight and win, according to a new study
released by a California-based research center.
The study was
conducted by four retired military officers, including the
three-star Air Force lieutenant general who in early 1993
was tasked with implementing President Clinton's
policy that the military stop questioning recruits on
their sexual orientation.
that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is
unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order,
discipline or cohesion,'' the officers states.
To support its
contention, the panel points to the British and Israeli
militaries, where it says gay people serve openly without
hurting the effectiveness of combat operations.
cohesion was a determining factor when Congress passed
the 1993 law, intended to keep the military from asking
recruits their sexual orientation. In turn, service
members can't say they are gay or bisexual, engage in
homosexual activity or marry a member of the same sex.
The study was
sponsored by the Michael D. Palm Center at the University
of California at Santa Barbara, which said it picked the
panel members to portray a bipartisan representation
of the different service branches. According to its
Web site, the Palm Center ''is committed to keeping
researchers, journalists and the general public informed of
the latest developments in the 'don't ask, don't tell'
Two of the
officers have endorsed Democratic candidates since leaving
the military -- Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, who
supports Barack Obama, and Marine Corps Gen. Hugh
Aitken, who backed Clinton in 1996.
Air Force Lt.
Gen. Robert Minter Alexander, a Republican, was assigned in
1993 to a high-level panel established by the Defense
Department to examine the issue of gays in the
military. At one point, he signed an order that
prohibited the military from asking a recruit's sexual
Alexander said at
the time he was simply trying to carry out the
president's orders and not take a position. But he now
believes the law should be repealed because it assumes
the existence of gays in the military is disruptive to
units even though cultural attitudes are changing.
Defense Department and not Congress should be in charge of
regulating sexual misconduct within the military, he said.
''Who else can
better judge whether it's a threat to good order and
discipline?'' Alexander asked.
Navy Vice Adm.
Jack Shanahan said he had no opinion on the issue when he
joined the panel, having never confronted it in his 35-year
military career. A self-described Republican who
opposes the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq
war, Shanahan said he was struck by the loss of
personal integrity required by individuals to carry out
''don't ask, don't tell.''
living a big lie -- the homosexuals were trying to hide
their sexual orientation and the commanders were looking the
other way because they didn't want to disrupt
operations by trying to enforce the law,'' he said.
(Anne Flaherty, AP)