full article at http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRel ... RN20091026
Former Republican Lawmaker Sets Tone for Other Services
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Secretary of the
Army, John McHugh, indicated this weekend that the Army is prepared to lift
the ban on openly gay service if the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress
decide to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a prospect that has gathered
steam in recent weeks.
McHugh, formerly a Republican congressman from the
conservative 23rd district of New York, is the highest official inside the
Pentagon to express such support. He told the Army Times on Sunday that there
was no reason to fear that major difficulties would result from lifting the
ban, and that he would help implement the policy change when the time comes.
"The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues," he said, with
"predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out." He also suggested that
repeal may come in phases, with early action involving, for example, allowing
open gays to serve in some occupations and not others.
"What we're seeing is a tipping point in the opinions of both military and
civilian leaders on this issue," said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, senior research
fellow at the Palm Center. "The Army is the largest of the services and the
most heavily involved in our wars abroad, and for Secretary McHugh to state
clearly that it can handle repeal sends a strong signal to the other service
secretaries that they can do the same."
Dr. Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said Secretary McHugh's
comments were enormously significant. But he pointed out that there is no
research to support the idea of letting gay soldiers serve in some units but
not others. "The rationale for the ban applies equally across all job
categories," he said. "So if it's okay to be an openly gay Arabic interpreter,
it's also okay to be openly gay in the infantry or on a submarine. Since
conduct rules apply across the board, there's just no basis for applying
different standards to different specialties."