Factbox: Splits over Obama plan to end 'don't ask, don't tell'

Wed Mar 3, 2010 3:45pm EST
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(Reuters) - President Barack Obama's push to allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military is creating divisions within the armed forces and Congress, at a time when the United States is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pushing for a review, due to be completed by December 1, on how to implement the new policy further down the road.

Critics of Obama's initiative prefer to stick to the current "don't ask, don't tell" law which allows homosexuals to serve in secret, but discharges them if their sexual orientation becomes known.

Some supporters of lifting the ban want faster action, calling for a moratorium on "don't ask, don't tell" until a new law is enacted, but that possibility is roundly opposed by the Pentagon.

Here are some of the key positions articulated this year by political and military leaders on the issue:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: "The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it. ... We received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly."

ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: "Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal and professional belief that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. ... Putting individuals in a position that every single day they wonder whether today's going to be the day, and devaluing them in that regard, just is inconsistent with us as an institution. I have served with homosexuals since 1968. ... Everybody in the military has".

MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT, GENERAL JAMES CONWAY: "At this point, I think that the current policy works. At this point, notwithstanding the results that the study will bring forward, my best military advice to this committee, to the secretary and to the president would be to keep the law such as it is.   Continued...