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'Don't ask' report gets early release

  |   Nov. 22, 2010 at 9:52 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he'll release the "don't ask, don't tell" report on gays serving in the military early to help senators' deliberations.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Sunday the report will be released Nov. 30, one day before the planned release date, to "support Congress's wish to consider repeal before they adjourn," The Washington Post reported Monday.

The Senate is scheduled to vote after Thanksgiving on a defense policy bill that includes language that would end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gay and lesbians from openly serving in the military.

Several senators asked Gates to release the report early so the Senate Armed Services Committee could conduct hearings before the full Senate votes. Some lawmakers indicated they won't decide how they will vote until they read the report.

Gates "instructed his staff, without cutting any corners, to have everything ready a day sooner because he wants to ensure members of the Armed Services Committee are able to read and consider the complex, lengthy report before holding hearings ...," Morrell said in a statement.

The report's conclusion is expected to say the military could lift the ban on gays serving openly with minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war effort, sources told the Post. The report will cite a survey of active-duty and reserve troops that indicates more than 70 percent of respondents said the effect of lifting the ban would be positive, mixed or non-existent.

One source told the Post concern about lifting the ban was expressed by about 40 percent of the Marine Corps, the only military branch reporting such high negatives. However, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen expressed confidence Sunday Marine Corps Gen. James Amos could carry out orders to end the ban if Congress votes to do so, despite his public misgivings.

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