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May 25, 2010 at 06:46pm IST

Deal reached on gays in US army policy

Washington: The White House and Congress have reached an agreement to repeal the military's "Don't ask, Don't Tell" policy, banning gays from serving openly in the armed forces, after 17 years.

As a result of the agreement, Congressmen would now be entitled to vote on amendments that could repeal the previous policy, with a provision ensuring that any change could take effect only after the Pentagon completes a study about its impact on troops.

Senators Joe Lieberman and Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Congressman Patrick Murphy sent a letter to the White House announcing that they have "developed a legislative proposal for consideration by the House and Senate that puts a process in place to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', once the working group has completed its review."

US President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs "certify that repeal can be achieved consistent with the military's standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention," the letter said.

"The Administration is of the view that the proposed amendment meets the concerns raised by Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Administration therefore supports the proposed amendment," White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag's said in a letter on Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said, "Given that Congress insists on addressing this issue this week, we are trying to gain a better understanding of the legislative proposals they will be considering."

It paves the path to fulfill the President's call to end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' this year and puts us one step closer to removing this stain from the laws of our nation, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said.

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