(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon will announce Friday that the secretary of defense and the heads of each military branch have certified that "don’t ask, don’t tell," the military’s controversial policy barring openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces, is ready to be repealed.
The leaders of each service branch have determined that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly will not harm military readiness. The move paves the way for the policy to be overturned in 60 days.
The announcement will take place in an event at the Pentagon Friday afternoon, just shortly after new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is formally sworn in.
This is one of the final steps in overturning the longstanding policy whereby service members are not allowed to admit they are gay and the military is not allowed to ask if they are. President Obama pledged to reverse the policy, but only if military leaders agreed it is the right thing to do.
Congress repealed the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law last December, but the Pentagon still had to complete the certification.
As part of an effort to reassure the military leadership, individual service members and concerned members of Congress, last year the Pentagon circulated confidential surveys to members of the military and their families asking their views on gays serving openly and what effect they believed it would have on their ability to perform their duties in battle and at home.
The results ultimately contributed to the certification that will be announced Friday.
This year the policy has also been subject to a seesaw battle in the courts, that confused commanders, recruiters and service members about whether the policy was still in place and whether service members could still be discharged under it.
The Pentagon has already begun training programs to prepare service members and their families for the change in policy.
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