Secretary of the Army John McHugh said
Sunday that lifting the military's ban on open gay service would not
seriously disrupt the armed services.
McHugh told the Army Times:
“Anytime you have a broad-based policy change, there are challenges
to that. The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues,
[with] predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out.”
President Obama recently renewed his
pledge to repeal the military ban, also known as “don't ask, don't
“We cannot afford to cut from our
ranks people with the critical skills we need to fight any more than
we can afford – for our military's integrity – to force those
willing to do so into careers encumbered and compromised by having to
live a lie,” Obama told attendees at an October fundraiser for the
Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights advocate.
“So I'm working with the Pentagon,
its leadership, and the members of the House and Senate on ending
this policy. Legislation has been introduced in the House to make
this happen. I will end 'don't ask, don't tell.' That's my
commitment to you.”
The policy allows gay and lesbian
soldiers to work in the armed forces so long as they remain closeted
about their sexual orientation and celibate.
McHugh is the highest-ranking Pentagon
official to express support for repeal.
“What we're seeing is a tipping point
in the opinions of both military and civilian leaders on this issue,”
Dr. Nathaniel Frank, a senior research fellow at the Palm Center, a
California-based think tank, said in a statement. “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.”
McHugh was tapped by Obama to become
the civilian head of the Army. He is a former Republican
representative from New York whose votes in Congress on gay rights
most often aligned with his party. During the 110th
Congress, McHugh received a low rating of 15 on the Human Rights
Campaign's Congressional Scorecard, a survey that measures lawmakers'
support for gay and lesbian rights based on their voting history.