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DENVER-- Veterans, state lawmakers and Democratic Party officials gathered on the capitol steps here Monday to celebrate the end of the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which for the last 18 years barred gay Americans from serving openly in the military. The Pentagon on Tuesday is offically lifting Don't Ask, Don't Tell across all branches of the armed services in accordance with legislation passed last December. At a time when nearly any issue can generate incendiary political rhetoric and gridlock Congress, the end of the controversial military policy is being lauded as a rare bipartisan victory for equality and common sense and a sign of progress in service of the nation.