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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for military gays runs out

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law for gay personnel is slated to run out as scheduled on Tuesday, the armed forces said, ending a 17-year rule fraught with controversy.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Monday that repeal of the law would mean gay and lesbian service members may be open about their sexual orientation, according to the Armed Forces Press Service.

Little said the Defense Department was ready for repeal.

"This is something that has been known for a long time," he was quoted as saying. "We've gone through a process to certify repeal."

President Barack Obama in December signed a repeal of the ban into law in December. More than 13,000 homosexuals have been expelled from the armed services for revealing their sexual orientation since the policy took effect in 1993 under then-President Bill Clinton.

Little said nearly all service members had taken training associated with the law's repeal. Recruiters are accepting enlistment applications from openly gay and lesbian applicants, he said.

Three months before Congress passed the repeal, a gay rights group, the Log Cabin Republicans, won a landmark court decision striking down the rule.

The court said the law infringed on the constitutional free-speech and due-process rights of homosexuals in the armed forces.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing whether to affirm or overturn the decision declaring the ban unconstitutional.

Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos argued against the repeal last year, saying lifting the ban could harm troops' combat effectiveness.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will discuss the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law on Tuesday at a news conference.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson, Editing by Greg McCune)

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