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Panetta: No hitches in military's repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

Since September, gay service members have been able to serve openly in the US military. The end of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy is 'going very well,' Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listens at left as Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey speak during a briefing at the Pentagon, Thursday, May 10.

Susan Walsh/AP

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The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" – lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the US armed forces – is "going very well" so far, having no impact on troop morale, unit cohesion, or readiness, top Pentagon officials said Thursday.

Those are the findings of a new, as-yet-unreleased Pentagon report that assesses the first months under the new policy, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. He attributed the repeal's smooth sailing to a roughly year-long study the US military conducted before making the change.

“I have not found any negative effect on good order and discipline,” concurred Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a joint Pentagon briefing with Mr. Panetta.

Ending "don't ask, don't tell" represents one policy shift under the Obama administration to affirm gay rights. On Wednesday, President Obama said for the first time that he believes gay marriage should be legal, one day after North Carolina voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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