Most U.S. troops feel lifting the military's ban on homosexuals will have little negative impact on morale and national security, according to a new Pentagon study ordered by the White House to determine the impact of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
The 10-month study found that about 70 percent of respondents predicted a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would have positive, mixed or no results. Only 30 percent said ending the ban would have negative effects.
"The findings suggest that for large segments of the military, repeal of 'Don't ask, Don't tell' -- though potentially disruptive in the short-term -- would not be the wrenching, traumatic change that many have feared and predicted," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
CBN News spoke with Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council senior fellow for policy studies, about the Pentagon study on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Click play for his comments following Paul Strand's report.
He and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen discussed the report before Congress Tuesday morning.
The study also found that 40 percent of combat troops -- those on the front lines -- think repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will have negative effects, and 46 percent of Marines agree.
"Those findings and the potential implications for America's fighting forces remain a source of concern for the service chiefs and me," Gates said.
Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have mostly opposed repealing the policy, saying efforts to do so are politically driven and dangerous during two wars.
"This was a political promise made by an inexperienced president or candidate for presidency of the United States," McCain told CNN's "State of the Union" last weekend.
"The military is at its highest point in recruitment and retention and professionalism and capability, so to somehow allege that this policy has been damaging the military is simply false," he added.
Still, gay activists like the discharged Lt. Dan Choi say the repeal is about rights.
"Regardless of your orientation, regardless of your background or your identity, you should be able to serve your country," he said.
The Pentagon survey was based on responses by approximately 115,000 troops and 44,200 military spouses to more than a half million questionnaires distributed last summer. The study group, led by Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham, also visited various military bases and held town hall-style meetings with service members.
The findings of troop opinions would reflect the view of the broader population. According to a November survey by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Americans say they favor allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces while 27 percent oppose such a move.