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Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Ban on gays in military ends

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For weeks the military services have accepted applications from openly gay recruits, while waiting for repeal to take effect before processing the applications.

(Photo: Associated Press)

With the lifting of the ban, the Defense Department will publish revised regulations to reflect the new law allowing gays to serve openly. The revisions, such as eliminating references to banned homosexual service, are in line with policy guidance that was issued by top Pentagon officials in January, after Obama signed the legislation that did away with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The lifting of the 18-year-old ban also brings a halt to all pending investigations, discharges and other administrative proceedings that were begun under the Clinton-era law.

Existing standards of personal conduct, such as those pertaining to public displays of affection, will continue regardless of sexual orientation.

There also will be no immediate changes to eligibility standards for military benefits. All service members already are entitled to certain benefits and entitlements, such as designating a partner as one's life insurance beneficiary or as designated caregiver in the Wounded Warrior program.

Gay marriage is one of the thornier issues. An initial move by the Navy earlier this year to train chaplains about same-sex civil unions in states where they are legal was halted after more than five dozen lawmakers objected. The Pentagon is reviewing the issue.

Service members who were discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" law will be allowed to re-enlist, but their applications will not be given priority over those of any others with prior military experience who are seeking to re-enlist.

Some in Congress remain opposed to repeal, arguing that it may undermine order and discipline.

A leading advocate, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Monday the repeal is overdue.

"Our nation will finally close the door on a fundamental unfairness for gays and lesbians, and indeed affirm equality for all Americans," the California Democrat said.

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