Top officers in the Army and Marines are challenging the Pentagon study that supports ending the ban on gays serving openly in the military. They say the move would be divisive and difficult during this time of war.
"If the law is changed, successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat," the Marine commandant, Gen. James Amos, said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Their assessment, which is expected to be voiced at a Senate hearing Friday, comes as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other GOP lawmakers have expressed staunch opposition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Tony Perkins, a former Marine and president of The Family Research Council, shared thoughts on repealing gay military ban on the CBN News Channel's Morning News, Dec. 3. Click play for his comments.
McCain: Pentagon Study Flawed
McCain said Thursday the Pentagon's study on the effect of gays serving openly in the military is flawed and does not accurately portray the dangers of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
The Pentagon's top leadership presented the findings of their 10-month study before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Thursday.
The study found that about 70 percent of respondents felt repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would have positive, mixed or no results on troop morale and national security.
But McCain argued that forcing a substantial personnel policy like this in a time of war would be wrong for the military and the country.
As a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, he spoke from personal experience of troops' feelings on deciding who they want to serve with.
"Within the combat units of the Army and Marine Corps, the numbers are alarming: 12.6 percent of the overall military force responded to the survey say they'll leave the military sooner than they had planned," McCain told Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the impact of repealing the policy.
"If the 12.6 percent of the military left earlier, that translates into 264,600 men and women who leave earlier than they had planned," he continued. "Do you think that's a good idea?"
"They can't just up and leave. They have enlistment contracts. The officers have contracts in terms of the amount of time they have to serve," Gates answered. "So, it isn't like they can just say, 'Well I'm out of here.' They are going to have to complete their obligation and I believe that during that period their concerns can be mitigated."
Pentagon officials are asking Congress to repeal the policy before the courts intervene. The ban again homosexuals serving openly in the military has been in place for 17 years.
Conservatives Object to Repeal
Conservative organizations representing more than 40 million people have also submitted a letter to every U.S. senator urging them not to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
"The consequences of repealing DADT will no doubt result in service members leaving the military or refusing to join," they wrote. "We cannot afford attrition or demoralization of our military in light of the wars we are facing in the Middle East, not to mention the looming threat of North Korea."
McCain also pointed to the 60 percent of Marines who feel ending the ban would have a negative impact.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the issue, but McCain's comments could mean more opposition when the debate takes place.
McCain has helped block previous Senate debates on the issue before.