President Barack Obama has said repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has strengthened national security.

Obama signed the bill repealing the 18-year-old policy in December of 2010. The military set aside nearly a year to implement repeal. On September 20, 2011 “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” officially came to an end, allowing gay and bisexual troops to serve openly for the first time.

The president called repeal a matter of fairness in a statement released on Thursday.

“A year ago today, we upheld the fundamental American values of fairness and equality by finally and formally repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Gay and lesbian Americans now no longer need to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. It is a testament to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform that this change was implemented in an orderly manner, preserving unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness,” Obama said.

(Related: A year after DADT repeal, Pentagon cites fewer than 10 anti-gay cases.)

“As Commander in Chief, I've seen that our national security has been strengthened because we are no longer denied the skills and talents of those patriotic Americans who happen to be gay or lesbian. The ability of service members to be open and honest about their families and the people they love honors the integrity of the individuals who serve, strengthens the institutions they serve, and is one of the many reasons why our military remains the finest in the world.”