US President Barack Obama has announced the 17-year military ban on openly gay service will end on Sept.20 2011.

The certification came today from Obama and the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta who have decided that the repeal will not harm the military's ability to fight.

The decision comes 7 months after the law was overturned at US Congress. The Pentagon had asked for time to prepare the troops for the arrival of openly gay comrades.  Once the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, is certified the ban will officially cease 60 days later.

President Barack Obama has helped usher the repeal through congress in fulfillment of a 2008 campaign promise. The move has drawn fierce opposition from members of congress and reluctance from some military leaders, the Associated Press reported.

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.

As of 20 September, 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.

The pentagon has prepared troops and commanders and produced new manuals for the change. Members of the military have received training on the new law including how the change will or will not affect housing, transfers and other social benefits.

 The main guideline states that gays and lesbians should be treated the same as any other solider, sailor, or marine, however, same sex partners will not be given the same housing benefits as married couples, according to the Associated Press.

Under the US policy of don't ask, don't tell established in 1993, gay people could serve in the military but could not acknowledge their orientation. The military was forbidden to inquire but was permitted to expel service members found to be gay. More than 13,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy, the BBC reported.