Pentagon to Officially End Ban on Gays in the Military

Adam Clark Estes
Pentagon to Officially End Ban on Gays in the Military

After nearly 20 years of controversy, top Pentagon officials will certify the repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy on Friday. According to multiple reports, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will announce an end to the ban on gays in the military exactly seven months after Obama signed the repeal. The actual repeal of the 1993 legislation won't go into effect for another 60 days, according to a measure passed by Congress last year. And perhaps more controversially, federal law prevents married gay couples from receiving the same health, housing and education benefits that straight couples get.

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This week's victory is somewhat bittersweet in light of the benefits question, but gay rights activists are now look to military officers to spend the rest of the summer sorting out those details. "With the repeal in place, many senior military officials have said privately they are personally in favor of extending equal rights to same sex couples," reports Julian Barnes at The Wall Street Journal. "Advocates are counting on those officers to make the case to Congress that current law should be changed."

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Passage of the bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act could clear up some of these complications, and with President Obama's recent vote of support, the process could pick up. With prominent gay activists like Dan Choi shaming Obama for not moving more quickly on legislation like this, the president could use another legislative victory to keep the support from the LGBT community.