A Pentagon report has concluded that the ban on openly gay people serving in the American armed forces could be lifted without harming military effectiveness.
The study dismissed or downplayed concerns raised in Congress and some quarters of the military against President Barack Obama's plans to repeal the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
That policy bars gays from serving openly in the military but allows them to serve in the armed forces as long as they keep their sexual orientation private.
Opponents have argued its repeal would further stress a military already stretched thin by two wars.
Top US generals voiced concern about the fallout on American forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned they would need plenty of time to prepare for integration of openly serving gays and lesbians.
The study dismissed as exaggerated notions that ending the ban would lead to overt promiscuity, widespread "effeminacy" among men and "unwelcome advances."
Big gains by Republicans in congressional elections last month have raised doubts, however, about whether President Barack Obama can muster the votes to end the ban once the new Congress takes office in January.