The Pentagon eased parts of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, Thursday, making it more difficult to kick homosexuals out of the armed forces.
The new changes will require a general or admiral to initiate proceedings against a service member in question. Until now, any commanding officer could start or conduct an investigation.
There are also higher standards for "credible information" against the suspected homosexual. Third parties who come forward to out a service member will now have to testify under oath.
"As of my signature right after this meeting, every case that is currently still open will be dealt with under these new regulations," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
"I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice, above all by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved," he added.
These are the biggest changes to "Don't ask, don't tell" since former President Bill Clinton signed the law in 1993.
President Obama wants Congress to get rid of the policy altogether. A Pentagon review on how to do that will be released at the end of this year.