The "don't ask  don't tell" policy prevents openly gay people from serving in the US military [AFP]

The US military has concluded that allowing openly gay men and women to serve will cause no long-term problems.

The study found that a change in current rules, which require gay service members to keep their sexuality a secret, might cause some disruption initially, but would have no lasting impact on the military.

The study, which has not been officially released, is expected to bolster campaigners for equal rights for homosexual soldiers, who hope to force a vote in Congress on the issue.

It is unclear whether the results of the study will persuade socially conservative Republicans, led by Senator John McCain, himself a former naval officer, to drop opposition to repealing a law which bans openly gay men and women from serving in the US military.   

Study findings

The report found that 70 per cent of servicemen believe that repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" law would have mixed, positive or no effect, while 30 per cent predicted negative consequences.

Opposition among combat troops was strongest, with at 40 per cent opposed to a change in the law. That number climbed to 46 per cent among marines.

Tellingly, 92 per cent of troops who had worked with a gay colleague said that their unit's ability to work together was either very good, good, or neither good nor poor.

The report is expected to show that military commanders believe that gay troops have a strong desire to fit in and feel accepted by their units.

The survey is based on the responses of about 115,000 troops who were questioned by an independent polling firm.

The debate over whether to allow openly gay troops to serve has been fiercely contested in the US, with courts and politicians divided over whether the law banning them should be repealed.

Source: Al Jazeera