As promised, the Pentagon has begun examining how the ban on gays serving openly could be eased and then repealed. But a complete repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is probably years away.
The extended time line is about more than giving military leaders time to assess the impact on troops and put new rules in place. The multiyear process also is a strategic way of getting troops used to the idea before they have to accept change.
The military's policy on gays is based on a 1993 law. Reversing it would require an act of Congress. And it would mark the biggest upheaval to the military's personnel policies since the 1948 executive order on racial integration.
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