US to lift ban on gays in military

THE US congress is poised to repeal a 17-year-old law that bans openly homosexual people serving in the military, after a deal between the White House and political leaders on Capitol Hill.

A vote on legislation is expected in a matter of days, potentially fulfilling President Barack Obama’s election promise to end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule that forces gays and lesbians out of the US armed services if their sexuality is exposed.

The deal, finalised yesterday, comes with a catch. While legislation to overturn the ban could pass this week, Mr Obama has agreed to delay implementation until after the Pentagon completes a study of its likely impact.

White House budget director Peter Orszag said in a letter to congress negotiators that the President supported the law’s repeal, subject to maintaining “standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unity cohesion, recruiting and retention”.

Mr Orszag’s letter was official confirmation to the main figures pushing for change – Democrats Carl Levin and Patrick Murphy and independent Joe Lieberman – that they should proceed.

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