LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A more open approach to homosexual or bisexual men and women serving in the military will save hundreds of millions of tax dollars and draw more people into the ranks, the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles said in a research brief made public Wednesday.
The UCLA research body said that U.S. Census figures showed that about 66,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women were on military payrolls. The current policy requires members of the armed forces to remain silent about their sexual orientation.
However, the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy carries huge costs for the taxpayer, the study said. The institute estimated that lifting the DADT policy would attract 50,000 new entrants to the armed forces and save taxpayers huge amounts currently spent on maintaining that policy.
An end to the policy was one of the election pledges made by President Barack Obama. Although Obama has said he wants to push ahead with an end to the ban on openly homosexual relationships in the military, a timetable for a change in the law is still awaited.
"I will end 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell,'" Obama said at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group, but did not specify how and when.
The law was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton, who also promised to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military. Clinton was thwarted by opposition in both the military and Congress.
Analysts said an underlying difficulty was a deep-rooted culture of machismo in both the military and security industries that transcended international borders.
Gary J. Gates, Williams distinguished scholar and study author, said, "Despite official policy requiring that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals remain silent about their sexual orientation, data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that an estimated 66,000 LGB men and women are serving in the U.S. military."
The study updated previously published estimates of the cost of the DADT policy made by the Government Accountability Office and the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
According to Gates, ending the ban on openly homosexual relationships in the military will save "a substantial amount of taxpayer dollars since estimates suggest that the policy has cost more than half a billion dollars."
The estimated 66,000 lesbians, gay men and bisexuals cited as current members of the armed forces account for about 2.2 percent of military personnel.
Of those, about 13,000 are serving on active duty and thus comprise 0.9 percent of all active-duty personnel. The remaining 53,000 are serving in the guard and reserve forces where they account for 3.4 percent of the total.
Currently female members of the U.S. armed forces comprise about 14 percent of active-duty personnel. But, in relation to the UCLA study, they comprise more than 43 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual men and women who are on active duty.
Lifting DADT restrictions could draw an estimated 36,700 men and women to active-duty service and 12,000 more individuals to the guard and reserve, Gates said.
The study calculated that Don't Ask/Don't Tell had cost the military between $290 million and more than half a billion dollars since it was introduced in 1994.
Members of the armed forces discharged under the policy can also incur costs, said the study. According to its current estimates, the military spends between $22,000 and $43,000 per person replaced under DADT.