Obama To Sign Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

(CNN)

President Obama will sign the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law Wednesday, ending a policy enacted in 1993 that banned openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service.

The changes won't be immediate, possibly taking several months to implement, the White House has said.

The Pentagon has an 87-page implementation plan for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Over the next several weeks, military officials need to examine and rewrite a series of policies, regulations and directives related to the current law.

Once that potentially lengthy process is complete, Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen will each have to certify that the repeal can move ahead without negatively affecting unit cohesion and military readiness.

After the certification, another 60 days will need to pass before the repeal is officially enacted.

Even after the repeal, gay and lesbian service members will not have every right and privilege accorded to heterosexual members of the military, largely because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

A Pentagon study released earlier in December concluded that allowing openly gay or lesbian troops to serve in the military would have little lasting impact on the U.S. forces. Opposition to the change was much higher in the Army and Marine combat units than in the military as a whole.

During the 17 years the policy was in place, more than 14,000 military members were discharged because of it.