President Barack Obama has called repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” a “crucial step for civil rights.”

On Saturday, the Senate approved repeal of the Clinton-era law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly. House members overwhelmingly voted in favor of repeal on Wednesday.

“When that bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed,” Obama said in a statement released Saturday.

As candidate – and later as president – Obama pledged to repeal the policy, but gay rights activists had questioned his resolve due in large part to his decision to defend the law in the courts.

Obama said he could relate to the gay and lesbian service members who had been discriminated against by the policy.

“As Commander in Chief, I fought to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' because it weakens our national security and military readiness. It violates the fundamental American principles of equality and fairness.”

“But this victory is also personal.”

“I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my sexual orientation. But I know my story would not be possible without the sacrifice and struggle of those who came before me – many I will never meet, and can never thank.”

“I know this repeal is a crucial step for civil rights, and that it strengthens our military and national security. I know it is the right thing to do.”