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Pentagon set to end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

22 july 2011, 17:25
0
©AFP
©AFP
Seven months after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Pentagon is set to announce that it will officially end the ban on gays openly serving in the military, a US official told AFP on Thursday.

The "certification" is set to take place on Friday.

On December 18, the Senate voted to repeal the controversial law, which since 1993 has required those in the military to conceal their homosexuality or risk being discharged.

After the new law was passed repealing the ban, Pentagon officials had requested time to prepare military troops for the arrival of openly homosexual soldiers.

The certification signals that President Barack Obama, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen have officially confirmed that the military is prepared.

If the certification takes place on Friday, as expected, the ban will cease after 60 days.

Over the course of the past seven months, the Pentagon has produced new manuals and prepared military forces for the change.

The subject has been an object of passionate debate in US society with the intervention of such celebrities as Lady Gaga, who is in favor of abolishing the ban.

But certain elected officials, especially Republicans and some high-ranking army officials, fear it will effect the military's performance on the battlefield.

The new law was voted on in December after a Pentagon study showed that 70% of 115,000 service members and 44,000 of their spouses surveyed were in favor of allowing gays to openly serve in the military.

Former soldiers and gay rights groups have fought for years to overturn the ban, which was introduced in 1993 as a compromise after military chiefs rejected a bid by former president Bill Clinton to open the doors to gay soldiers.

Since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was adopted in 1993, an estimated 17,000 service members have been kicked out of the military under the rule.

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