Marine recruiters pitched up at an Oklahoma gay community centre to find openly lesbian, gay or bisexual recruits.

The 18-year-old law banning openly gay troops was finally repealed yesterday and Marine recruiters set up a stall at the Dennis R Neill Equality Center in Tulsa.

A Pentagon survey carried out last year showed that nearly 60 per cent of troops in the most dangerous roles – in the Marines and combat units – said repeal of the ban would be damaging.

However, Marines typically pride themselves as elite and above all other military factions and the New York Times suggests the service will want to prove it is better than others in recruiting LGB people.

They were the only service to accept the equality centre’s invitation of holding a recruitment drive.

Although just a handful of would-be Marines turned up, Master Sgt Anthony Henry said: “My take is, if they can make it through our boot camp, which is the toughest boot camp in the world, then they ought to have the opportunity to wear the uniform.”