President Obama has notified Congress that all the requirements have been met to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military.
The policy will come to end in 60 days.
"As of September 20, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country," the president said in a statement. "Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian."
The president's certification officially ends the program, which has been in place for almost 18 years. The repeal also means that Obama has made good on his 2008 campaign promise to the gay community.
"As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness," the president said. "Today's action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal."
The AP has a bit of background:
Friday's move was expected under the repeal law Congress passed in December. Before "don't ask, don't tell," the military did not allow gays to serve. But in 1993 Clinton said gays would be discharged only if their sexual orientation became known.
Repeal has drawn strong opposition from some in Congress, and there was initial reluctance from military leaders who worried it could cause a backlash and erode troop cohesion on the battlefield.
But two weeks ago, the chiefs of the military services told Panetta that ending the ban would not affect military readiness.