Fulfilling a campaign pledge, cheering his party’s downcast liberals and striking a blow for what he sees as basic human rights, President Barack Obama is set to sign a landmark law Wednesday that tells America’s armed services to let homosexuals serve openly for the first time.

So many gay rights and Democratic activists were expected at the signing ceremony that the White House booked a large auditorium at the Interior Department.

“This day has come!” said an elated Mike Almy, an Air Force major discharged four years ago when his sexual orientation became known. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is over, and you no longer have to sacrifice your integrity.”

While the elation is real, Pentagon officials caution it could be premature, since the bill requires service chiefs to complete implementation plans before lifting the old policy — and certify to lawmakers that it won’t damage combat readiness, as critics charge.
Also, guidelines must be finalized that cover a host of practical questions, from how to educate troops to how sexual orientation should be handled in making barracks assignments.

Source: Mark S. Smith for AP News.

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