Gays and lesbians will be treated just like any other soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines, the new rules say. But commanders will have some flexibility when they believe it's needed to maintain order and discipline in their units.
As the U.S. military begins to map out how it will implement the new edict allowing gays to serve openly, the first order of business is drafting the regulations. The rule changes under discussion won't dictate how troops feel about the change, but will strictly enforce how they act on it.
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The Senate voted Saturday to repeal the ban on openly gay service, following earlier action by the House. Fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise, President Barack Obama plans to sign the bill into law on Wednesday at an Interior Department ceremony. But in letters to the troops over the weekend, the four military service chiefs warned that the ban is still in place, and will be for some time to come.
"The implementation and certification process will not happen immediately; it will take time," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in an e-mail to airmen. "Meanwhile, the current law remains in effect. All Air Force members should conduct themselves accordingly."
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