A change in the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military can be implemented without irreparable harm, the co-chair of a Pentagon working group that studied the matter said yesterday.
ďItís my belief, having now looked this matter extensively over nine months, that the leaders of our services -- all services, all components -- are so good today, so experienced today, that they can effectively implement this change, maintain unit cohesion, and a strong focus on mission accomplishment,Ē Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said.
Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Departmentís general counsel and the working groupís other co-chair, discussed their findings in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates appointed Ham and Johnson early this year to lead the group to determine the effects on the military if the law is changed to allow gays to serve openly. Ham and Johnson made their findings public today, as well as their report, which assesses the matter and gives recommendations for moving forward.
A majority -- about 55 percent -- of respondents to a survey sent to 400,000 servicemembers in the active and reserve components said allowing gays to serve openly would have either no effect or a balance of positive and negative effects on the military, and between 15 and 20 percent said such a change would have only positive effects.
About 30 percent of respondents said overturning the law would have a mostly negative impact, and those respondents mostly were part of the warfighting specialties, Ham said.
Results showed slight trends in differences among members of each service, Ham said, adding that he was surprised the feedback showed few trends among age groups.