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The Defense Department has announced a plan to end discrimination against gay American service members. On the heels of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union pledge to repeal former President Bill Clinton’s policy of requiring gays to stay in the closet while on active duty, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and among Obama’s top military advisers, expressed their support for banning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.

“The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it,” said Gates, at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. “We believe that we have a degree of latitude within the existing law to change our internal procedures in a manner that is more appropriate and fair to our men and women in uniform.”

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