Newly appointed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen have determined that don't ask don't tell can be repealed without any detriment to military operations. The Los Angeles Times reports that Pentagon officials are set to make the announcement on Friday, and the policy may be ended as early as September.
Ending the ban would allow gays and lesbian soldiers in the military to openly serve without fear of being discharged. Congress voted to repeal the law, which was enacted in 1993, earlier in the year but did so under the condition that military officials were first given the opportunity to determine whether or not it would have a negative impact. After they were able to certify that the repeal would take place in 60 days.
Despite the passage of the law in December, the process has not been without controversy. Some congressmen tried to block the process through a defense budget bill, and even some proponents of the repeal were upset with President Obama for waiting until late 2010 to start the repeal process even though he had made it a priority when campaigning in 2008.
However, any issues were all but put to rest earlier this summer when a court of appeals ruled that the military could no longer enforce the ban. The decision by Panetta has been lauded by gay rights groups, especially Servicemembers United, a nonpartisan organization that represents gay and lesbian military personnel and veterans.
"We are glad to see that just three weeks into his tenure as secretary of Defense, he is already confident that this policy change can take place with little or no disruption to military readiness," Alexander Nicholson, the group's executive director, told the news source.