WASHINGTON, July 22, 2011 -- The 1993 law that has banned gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military “undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality,” President Barack Obama said today in announcing he has certified that the armed forces are ready for its repeal.
Repeal of the law takes effect Sept. 20, when a 60-day waiting period mandated by the repeal legislation runs out.
“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,” the president said in a statement.
Obama commended the military for adjusting to the repeal process in a transparent and professional manner, leading to certification by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the services are ready for the change.
“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,” he 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,” Obama said.
As of Sept. 20, the president added, servicemembers no longer will be forced to hide who they are to serve the 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.
Obama also lauded Defense Department leaders for their handling of the repeal.
“I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war,” he said.
“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 also praised the resilience of the nation’s men and women in uniform for their ability to adapt to change.
“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,” he said.