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DADT repeal timeline still uncertain

From NBC's Jim Miklaszewski
As President Barack Obama signs legislation to roll back the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, Pentagon officials still don't have a clue how long it will take to implement the repeal and lift the ban on gays and lesbians openly serving in the military.

The law itself says the repeal will not take effect until Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen and the President himself certify the military's readiness.

But before that certification, the Pentagon needs to come up with a plan for implementation to deal specifically with issues such as housing and benefits for same-sex partners, the rights of gays and lesbians (particularly in the area of enlistment or re-enlistment), and an education and training regimen for all servicemembers.

While the law itself does not lay out a timetable for those plans, Gates has suggested that it could take as long as a year.

There also appears to be no desire among Pentagon officials to slap a moratorium on enforcement of Don't Ask Don't Tell pending that implementation and certification process.

In October, Gates imposed new more stringent procedures for enforcement of the ban -- which many in the military already consider a de facto moratorium.

The Pentagon doesn't know if any new DADT cases have been referred up the chain of command since then.

However, Pentagon officials and the service chiefs have made it clear to servicemembers that until certification, DADT remains the law. Anyone who openly declares they are gay or lesbian could be subject to separation from the service -- at least as of now.