Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, the nation’s top military and civilian leaders argued for a repeal of the 1993 Act of Congress that banned openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen testified together with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and said that overturning the policy known as "don’t ask don’t tell" would be "the right thing to do."
"I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," said Mullen.
Several prominent Republicans, including former Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, have expressed their support for the overhaul.
"In the 17 years since the legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," Powell stated after the hearing, quoted by The New York Times.
However, a significant group of GOP lawmakers, led by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), have declared themselves to be against it. McCain has been quoted as saying he was "disappointed" with the administration’s push.
The Department of Defense is putting together a working group that will conduct a year-long study on troops’ feelings about lifting the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.
More than 10,000 service members have had to leave the armed forces due to the ban.