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December 23rd, 2010
04:35 PM ET

Gates tells troops 'don't ask, don't tell' is still in effect

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is essentially telling gays and lesbians serving in the military not to come out yet.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is essentially telling gays and lesbians serving in the military not to come out yet.

Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

(CNN) - Despite President Barack Obama's signing of a law repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent a memo to troops warning them that it remains in effect until 60 days after the government certifies that the military is ready for implementation.

The Pentagon says it does not know how long the certification process may take.

In the meantime, Gates is essentially telling gays and lesbians serving in the military not to come out until 60 days after that determination is made.

"In order to prevent any confusion, I want to be perfectly clear: at this time, there are no new changes to any existing Department or Service policies," said the the memo, released Thursday.

"Service members who alter their personal conduct during this period may face adverse consequences," Gates wrote.

Before the ban is completely lifted, the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will have to certify that the repeal can move ahead without negatively affecting unit cohesion and military readiness.

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