BY Michelle Garcia
June 23 2011 6:10 PM ET
Outgoing Defense secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that his successor will certify that the military is ready to repeal its ban on openly gay and lesbian service members.
Leon Panetta, who is to take over the leadership post at the Pentagon, will likely certify the bill with President Obama and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen in late July or early August, according to AFP.
While Gates predicted that he would be able to sign the certification before leaving his post, he told AFP that he "will not certify" the repeal as planned.
"What I have done is earlier this week met with the service chiefs and the service secretaries and we began what I would call the pre-certification phase of this," he added. The next step will involve service chiefs to confer with officers for their input on whether the military is ready for repeal.
The Senate voted to end "don't ask, don't tell" in December, at the end of the previous session of Congress. The bill, which President Obama signed into law, passed after a wide-ranging study of military personnel stated that a majority of troops said repeal would not affect them or morale in general.
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