Pentagon Leaders Say Gays Won't Hurt The Military

(AP)

WASHINGTON – Gay troops can serve openly in the armed forces without harming the military's ability to fight, the Pentagon's top leaders declared Tuesday, calling for the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" ban to be scrapped and pointing to a new survey to show most troops won't mind.

President Barack Obama, citing the troop poll, urged the Senate to repeal the ban before adjourning in the next few weeks, but there is still no indication GOP objections can be overcome with just a few weeks left in the postelection lame-duck session. Still, the survey did put new pressure on Republican opponents, led by Sen. John McCain, who say efforts to repeal the law are politically motivated and dangerous at a time of two wars.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the ban on openly gay military service "requires people to lie," and he called for quick Senate action.

"We spend a lot of time in the military talking about integrity and honor and values. Telling the truth is a pretty important value in that scale," Gates said as he released the Pentagon study showing that most people currently in uniform don't care about the ban.

Senate Democrats plan to force a vote in December. Senate Republicans were generally silent following release of the Pentagon recommendations for repealing the ban.

Although historic, Tuesday's recommendation that the military for the first time allow openly gay people came with a caveat that also frustrates many supporters of repeal. Gates wants an indefinite grace period while the Pentagon prepares for the policy change and phases it in.