The Pentagon is preparing to put an end to the 17-year military ban on openly gay service after the Defense Secretary has certified that doing so will not harm the military's ability to fight.
Leon Panetta has come to a decision 7 months after the law was overturned at US Congress. The Pentagon had asked for time to prepare the troops for the arrival of openly gay comrades. Once the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, is certified the ban will officially cease 60 days later.
President Barack Obama has helped usher the repeal through congress in fulfillment of a 2008 campaign promise. The move has drawn fierce opposition from members of congress and reluctance from some military leaders, the Associated Press reported.
The pentagon has prepared troops and commanders and produced new manuals for the change. Members of the military have received training on the new law including how the change will or will not affect housing, transfers and other social benefits.
The main guideline states that gays and lesbians should be treated the same as any other solider, sailor, or marine, however, same sex partners will not be given the same housing benefits as married couples, according to the Associated Press.
Under the US policy of don't ask, don't tell established in 1993, gay people could serve in the military but could not acknowledge their orientation. The military was forbidden to inquire but was permitted to expel service members found to be gay. More than 13,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy, the BBC reported.