US military ban on openly gay personnel 'should end'
Adm Mullen said lifting the ban would be "the right thing to do"
Openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the US military, the country's top commander has said.
Adm Mike Mullen told a Senate hearing into a ban on openly gay personnel that allowing them to serve was "the right thing to do".
He said there were practical difficulties in repealing the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but that the military could handle it.
President Barack Obama has pledged to repeal the ban.
Adm Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed he was "speaking for myself and myself only".
"No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."
Russia and Israel have contrasting attitudes to being gay and serving in the military
He told the Senate Armed Services Committee the issue "comes down to integrity, theirs as individuals and ours as an institution".
His comments echo Mr Obama's State of the Union address last week, in which the president said: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."
Appearing before the same Senate panel, defence secretary Robert Gates announced a year-long policy review.
His chief legal adviser, Jeh Johnson, and Gen Carter Ham, who heads US army forces in Europe, will lead the review into how to go about lifting the ban on openly gay military personnel.
Has this policy been ideal? No, it has not. But it has been effective
Senator John McCain Senate Armed Services Committee
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.