Study: Repeal of military gay ban should be swift

Tue. February 23, 2010 12:00 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Repeal of the military's ban on open gay service should be implemented quickly, rather than phased-in, a new study released Tuesday by the Palm Center concludes.

"This study shows that we already have an enormous amount of information to guide this process, and suggests that another year of analysis, or a years-long implementation process, may be unnecessary," Nathaniel Frank, the principal author of the study, told On Top Magazine Monday in an email.

The study, Gays in Foreign Militaries 2010: A Global Primer, is the largest-ever to look at how foreign militaries integrated gay troops.

The study's conclusion – that swift implementation is key to success – runs counter to what top Pentagon leaders have proposed. "Swift, decisive implementation signals the support of top leadership and confidence that the process will go smoothly, while a 'phased-in' implementation can create anxiety, confusion and obstructionism," the report says.

"Other countries, particularly Britain, Canada, and Israel, experienced very similar cultural and political debates on this issue prior to lifting their bans," the study says. "Opponents raised concerns that an inclusive policy would undermine morale, recruitment, retention, cohesion and discipline, and pointed to polls suggesting that service members would leave if bans were lifted."

The report, however, concludes that in foreign militaries, the introduction of open gay service did not create widespread disruptions. Procedures lifting policies that discriminate against gay and lesbian service members in foreign militaries have been "highly successful" and have had no negative impact on morale, recruitment, retention, readiness or overall combat effectiveness.

"In Britain and Canada, roughly two thirds of military respondents in polls said they would refuse to serve with open gays, but when inclusive policies were implemented, no more than three people in each country actually resigned," the researchers say.

Pentagon leaders have publicly acknowledged their support for repeal of the ban, implemented in 1993 and known as "don't ask, don't tell," but have also said they would conduct a year-long study on how best to implement repeal should Congress overturn the law.

"These include potential revisions to policies on benefits, base housing, fraternization and misconduct, separations and discharges, and many others," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a key Senate panel considering the issue earlier this month.
General David H. Petraeus, commander of United States Central Command, agreed, saying the review "will suggest the policies that could be used to implement a change if it does come to that" during a Sunday appearance on NBC's Meet the Press.

The U.S. military has a long tradition of considering the experiences of other militaries when confronted with similar issues, the study added.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine