28 retired, high-ranking American military leaders have signed a letter calling for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In the years since the policy was enacted, over 12,000 men and women have been discharged from the US military under the policy.

The letter marks the single largest number of Generals and Admirals from the US Armed Forces to come out against the ban on openly LGB service personnel at one time.

“We support the recent comments of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General John Shalikashvili, who has concluded that repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy would not harm, and would indeed help, our armed forces,” the letter states.

The opinions of Flag Officers have played a critical role in shaping the policy on gay service.

President Bill Clinton chose not to fully lift the gay ban because key military leaders opposed ending it.

But now a significant number of General Officers are coming forward to acknowledge their opposition to the ban.

Some political leaders and academic experts said in 1993 that the military would not be ready to allow openly gay service until society and the military had developed a more tolerant attitude toward homosexuality.

A December 2006 Zogby poll of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73 percent of soldiers reported being “comfortable in the presence of gays,” and only 37 percent oppose repealing the policy.

A May 2007 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showed that 79 percent of Americans believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.