'Don't ask, don't tell' policy will end Sept. 20, Obama announces

President Obama certified on Friday the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell," which bans gays from serving openly in the military. 

"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," Obama said in a statement. "In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days — on September 20, 2011."

In his statement, Obama also thanked U.S. service members, including "those who are gay or lesbian."

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"I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition," Obama continued. "Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans."

In the past, Obama has received criticism from liberals that, even after his push to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell," he wasn't proactive enough on same-sex marriages. Recently Obama, who is opposed to same-sex marriage, has said his position on gay marriage is "evolving."

Obama was joined in signing the certification of the ban by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hailed the certification.

"From now on, our military commanders and our nation can be sure we will have the best and brightest service members defending our nation, regardless of ethnicity, creed, or sexual orientation. This is a great victory for justice, civil rights and our national security," Reid said.

In December 2010 the Senate voted 65-31 in favor of repealing the law after a certification process involving military leaders and the president.

Obama's certification fulfills a longstanding pledge of his to end the Clinton-era law.

Updated at 4:48 p.m. 

Read the certification below:

DADTCert