I remember the 1994 debate well. I was in DC at time working for the Center for Naval Analyses, and it was heated. Many stated this would NEVER happen.
But even then, you just knew it would. Ditto for gays in the military.
It's a tough life, and when people choose it, you have to respect that along all lines. You cannot deny people the right to move up in rank, and combat duty is a big deal in that regard.
Plus, even then you could see the "linear battlefield" going the way of the dinosaur, so if anybody's there - in theater - combat is possible and inevitable on a long-enough time scale.
So this was just policy catching up with reality - just like how doctrine gets changed (That used to be our doctrine, but then too many troops got killed that way, so now, it's no longer our doctrine and this is.)
So good stuff. You want democracy? You live with equality.