By Mark Memmott
Allowing gays to openly serve in the military is "the right thing to do," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee just moments ago.
The top Republican on that panel, 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain, restated his opposition. "At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," said McCain.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the committee that he fully supports President Barack Obama's decision to seek a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law that keeps gays from serving openly.
Here is Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on why he personally believes gays should be allowed to serve openly. To him, the current policy "forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens":
McCain, though, said that a military that's already stretched by fighting two wars does not need the added pressure of such a significant change in policy:
Gates also spoke about why he believes it will take the Pentagon a year to thoroughly study the issue and how such a change could be implemented. "The overriding imperative," he said, is to "get this right and minimize disruption":