WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have certified that the U.S. military is prepared to accept openly gay and lesbian service members, and that doing so will not harm military readiness, the White House announced Friday.
Under a bill passed last year that set up a process for repealing the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, all three men needed to sign a certification confirming the military's ability to move forward with the integration of openly gay and lesbian troops.
A 60-day waiting period will now begin before the repeal is fully implemented.
"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 said in a written statement.
"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."