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Many opponents of gays in the military will accept the proposition that gay and lesbian soldiers, most of them closeted, have served their country bravely and well. General Colin Powell has referred to gay service members as "proud, brave, loyal, good Americans" who have "served well in the past and are continuing to serve well." General H. Norman Schwartzkopf agrees: "homosexuals have served in the past and have done a great job serving their country."

What these opponents find harder to accept is the proposition that heterosexual people can effectively serve their country if openly gay people are in the military with them. The fear is that if openly gay and lesbian people are allowed to serve, they will make other soldiers uncomfortable. This discomfort will cause a breakdown in morale and discipline, destroying the "unit cohesion" that is essential for effective soldiering.

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