The White House has given its full support to legislation that would repeal the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military. President Obama ordered a review of the policy, directing Defence Secretary Robert Gates to gauge the attitudes of military personnel and the effect on morale that repealing the ban might have.

The proposal was first suggested as an amendment to a defence authorisation bill pending in Congress. The implementation of the new policy will be up to the Pentagon. White House Budget Director Peter Orszag wrote that the policy would: “ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention.”

The policy, unofficially known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” was adopted in 1993 after Democratic President Bill Clinton took office. The policy supposedly brought an end to the Pentagon’s practice of seeking out LGB people serving in the military. Under this policy, if their sexuality remained undisclosed, they could continue to serve.

Writing on Washington’s thenewstribune.com website, retired former army nurse Candace Plumlee, who was in a committed same-sex relationship throughout her 20 years of service said: “Lesbian and gay service members are willingly putting their life on the line for our security. We owe them peace of mind.”