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Obama backs gays in military move

President Barack Obama agrees with a Pentagon survey that overturning the US military's ban on gay service members would not be disruptive, the White House said.

Mr Obama continues to believe that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is divisive and should be overturned bylaw, his spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Mr Gibbs said the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" was discussed during Mr Obama's meeting with bipartisan politicians.

The Pentagon study on gays in the military has determined that overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" law might cause some disruption at first but would not create any widespread or long-lasting problems.

The study provided ammunition to congressional Democrats struggling to overturn the law. But even with the release of today's study, there was no indication they could overcome fierce Republican objections with just a few weeks left in the year-ending session of Congress.

Democrats will be in the minority when Congress reconvenes in early January.

Study co-chairs Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army General Carter Ham said: "We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war."

US defence secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen said Congress should act quickly because of a recent effort by a federal judge to overturn the law.

Mr Gates said the military needs time to prepare for such a change, even though he said he did not envisage any changes to personnel policy that would be needed. He said a sudden court-issued mandate would significantly increase the risk of causing disruption to the force.

"Given the present circumstances, those that choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts," Mr Gates said.

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