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Sources: Pentagon group finds there is minimal risk to lifting gay ban during war
Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, said last weekend that ending the policy in the middle of two wars would be risky for Marines.
"There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women - and when you talk of infantry, we're talking about our young men - lying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers," Amos told reporters. "I don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion. It's combat effectiveness."
Mullen, traveling in Australia at the time, publicly rebuked Amos for expressing his concerns to news media before the report's release.
Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, said Tuesday that he had received a draft of the report, but he would not discuss its contents.
"I think it's important for me to look at all of the information, all of the attitudes that are in there, because my job is to make recommendations," he said during a meeting with reporters and editors at The Washington Post. "All of the views need to be used to inform the input that I make."
Despite the predictions or fears of groups for and against repealing the ban, the report does not anticipate a large "coming out" by gay men and lesbians serving in uniform, said the person who had read the full draft.
Among several recommendations, the report urges an end to the military ban on sodomy between consenting adults regardless of what Congress or the federal courts might do about "don't ask, don't tell," the source said.
The report also concludes that gay troops should not be put into a special class for equal-opportunity or discrimination purposes, the individual said. The recommendation is based on feedback the study group obtained from gay troops and same-sex partners who said they do not want a special classification, according to the source. Gay troops were encouraged to participate in the survey and to submit comments to the anonymous online drop box.
The report recommends few, if any, changes to policy covering military housing and benefits, because the military must abide by the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which does not recognize same-sex marriage. Objections by troops who do not want to room or shower with openly gay troops should be handled case-by-case by commanders and should be scrutinized, the source said.
If "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed, a review should occur one year after afterward, the report's authors recommend.
In February, Gates tapped Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham to lead the study group. The team met privately in September with the same-sex partners of active-duty and reserve troops and is in regular contact with groups for and against lifting the ban, according to people familiar with the meetings.
Johnson and Ham wrote most of the report, which is undergoing final edits before it reaches the White House.
"I will look at it very carefully," Obama said last week.