President Barack Obama and the Pentagon’s top two leaders today signed the required certification attesting that the Defense Department is prepared for repeal of the military’s ban on gays serving openly.
According to a law passed in December, the ban should be lifted “once and for all” 60 days after the certification, Obama said. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also signed the certification, which was sent today to lawmakers in Congress.
“As of Sept. 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country,” Obama said in a White House statement. “Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality.”
The change represents a political victory for Obama, who campaigned on a pledge to repeal the 17-year-old prohibition, which dates to the administration of President Bill Clinton.
The shift is among a number of changes the administration has made, including at the State Department, to ease rules and regulations on government employees that discriminate based on sexual orientation.
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