In Tuesday's State of the Union, President Obama reiterated his commitment to lifting “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” this year.

Congress agreed to end the law that bans gay troops from serving openly during last month's lame-duck session, but implementation won't happen until top Pentagon officials and Obama certify that the military is ready for the change.

“Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim,” Obama told Congress and the nation. “And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our colleges campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group which lobbied for repeal of the law, urged the government to end the policy in the first quarter of 2011.

“We need to make 'Don't Ask' repeal a reality sooner rather than later,” Sarvis said in a statement.

“It is also encouraging to see that the President and First Lady recognize that LGBT troops are very much part of the fabric of our military families. However, we need to bring more visibility and awareness to that reality too,” he added.

Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Watch (HRC), also praised the president for his support of repeal, but added that inequities remain.

“Not only does repeal mean troops will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, but our nation will be stronger with the best and brightest able to serve in uniform,” he said. “Tonight is the culmination of a promise kept by this President.”

“With discrimination in the military soon behind us, there remain a number of pressing issues for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community when it comes to economic security. The President and Congress can do much more to ensure the economic empowerment of LGBT people including ending the unfair taxation of partner health benefits, prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and ensuring that all married couples have access to the same federal benefits and protections for their families.”