By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON- The Defense Department will “move out carefully, deliberately and purposefully” to implement the repeal of the ”don’t ask, don’t tell law,” a Pentagon spokesman said today.

The Senate, on Dec. 18, repealed the 1993 law barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan told reporters today that because the legislation includes a certification phase, he can’t predict when the repeal will take effect.

“Right now we are in the planning stages,” Lapan said. “[We’re] starting to look at the implementation plan that the comprehensive working group developed, and determining a way forward on all the different issues.”

Lapan said those issues, also outlined in the implementation plan, include reviewing and revising policies and regulations, finalizing training and communications plans to educate troops about the change in law, making appropriate adjustments to military accession and separation policies, and resolving military benefits questions.

Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will oversee the entire implementation process, Lapan said, but the individual services also will have input in the process.

“We’re not there yet … two days after [the repeal] was signed,” he said.

Each of the service chiefs has issued guidance reminding servicemembers that until 60 days after the secretary, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander in chief certify the military’s readiness to implement the repeal, the current law remains in effect, Lapan said.

“All members should conduct themselves accordingly,” he said.

The process of separation under “don’t ask, don’t tell” was changed Oct. 21 to require the approval of the appropriate service secretary, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Stanley, Lapan said. Since that change, no new separations have been approved, he said, although some separations predating the change have been finalized.

During a briefing today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he expects President Barack Obama to sign the repeal Wednesday morning.