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Posted at 6:39 PM ET, 11/21/2010

'Don't ask, don't tell' to be released earlier than planned

By Ed O'Keefe

Signaling the growing seriousness of the Obama administration's commitment to ending the military's ban on gays in the military this year, the Defense Department said Sunday that it will release a long-awaited report on how the military could end the ban earlier than planned in response to senators eager to vote on the matter.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered the report to be released publicly on Nov. 30, one day earlier than planned, "to support Congress' wish to consider repeal before they adjourn," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Sunday evening.

The Senate is slated to vote again on a defense policy bill that includes language repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy after the Thanksgiving recess, after it failed to advance the bill in September. Several senators last week asked Gates to release the report early so the Senate Armed Services Committee could hold hearings on its findings before the full Senate votes. Several moderate senators have said they will not decide how to vote until they read the report.

Gates "has 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 with its authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Morrell said in a statement.

Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and the report's co-chairs, Army Gen. Carter Ham and Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson, could testify before the committee, according to aides.

The report is expected to conclude that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to sources who shared details of the report with The Washington Post.

The report will cite a survey of active-duty and reserve troops that found more than 70 percent of respondents said the effect of lifting the gay ban would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, according to sources who shared details.

About 40 percent of the Marine Corps is concerned about lifting the ban, according to one of the sources. Mullen said Sunday he is confident that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos will be able to carry out orders to end the ban if Congress votes to do so despite his public comments of concern on the matter.

"I have great confidence in him that if it gets to the change in the law, that the Marine Corps will implement it as he's described," Mullen said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 21, 2010; 6:39 PM ET
Categories:  Military  
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