Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama signed off on the certification of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal on Friday, ensuring that the law will finally come to an end on the 20th of September.

Obama added his signature to the document, which had earlier been signed by Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, in the Oval Office at the White House.

By certifying the repeal, the US government confirmed that the military is ready for the repeal of the 18-year-old ban on gay and lesbian personnel and that this will not affect the nation’s military effectiveness.

“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,” said Obama in a statement.

“As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian,” he said.

The news was lauded by LGBT rights groups in the US as historic, but Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, called for policies to be put in place to ensure that LGBT personnel do not face discrimination in the military.

“Every service member deserves equal respect in the work environment. Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was necessary, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. It’s critical that gay and lesbian service members have the same avenues for recourse as their straight counterparts when it comes to harassment and discrimination,” said Sarvis.

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