All-night bashes across the nation will mark the final countdown to the historic end of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay troops Tuesday.

But in many ways change is already here.

Countless subtle acts over the past months have been reshaping the armed forces' staunchly traditional society in preparation for the U.S. military's biggest policy shift in decades. Supporters of repeal compare it to the racial de-segregation of troops more than 60 years ago.

For some gay service members, the fear of discovery and reprisals dissipated months ago when a federal court halted all investigations and discharge proceedings under "don't ask, don't tell."

Since then, some have come out to their commanders. Others say they've noticed fewer anti-gay remarks among the ranks.