Military's Gay Ban Officially Ends in September

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President Barack Obama has signed a notice to Congress that will officially end the military's ban on homosexuals serving openly.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Friday that officials confirmed that ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell" would not adversely affect military readiness.

Shortly after that, Obama formally signed off on the decision, putting it into effect in 60 days.

"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," Obama said in a statement.

Click play to watch an updated report with CBN News Producer Tyler James.

He added that Friday's decision came after "extensive training of our military personnel" and certification from top military leaders.

"As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country," Obama added.

The repeal has drawn strong opposition from some in Congress, as well as religious groups that fear lifting the ban will put military chaplains in jeopardy.

But two weeks ago, military leaders told Panetta that ending the ban would not affect military readiness, the key step required before the Obama administration could certify the repeal.

Aubrey Sarvis is executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a national organization representing gay troops.

Sarvis said the repeal is welcomed by gay and lesbian troops "who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long."

Still, some in the military are concerned the move may infringe on religious rights of those who believe homosexuality is morally wrong.

"No American, especially those who wear the uniform to serve their country, should be denied the right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience," retired Army Chaplain Ron Crews said.

The 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will be removed Sept. 20.

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