WASHINGTON - After years of worrying what might happen if openly gay troops were allowed in the military, the Pentagon said on Thursday there had been no impact on morale, readiness or unit cohesion in the eight months since the ban on homosexuals was lifted.
President Barack Obama, who on Wednesday became the first US president to publicly support gay marriage, helped champion the end of the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He is counting the ban's repeal last September as a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises.
The 1993 policy allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military only if their sexual orientation was kept a secret. Many senior members of the military publicly warned against repealing the ban in wartime, saying it could hurt cohesion of troops or undermine morale.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, however, said a report he received on Wednesday showed there had been no negative fallout - something he credited to the military's gradual preparation for repeal, which included sensitivity training.
"It's not impacting on morale. It's not impacting on unit cohesion. It is not impacting on readiness," Panetta said.