President Barack Obama and top Pentagon leaders on Friday sent word to Congress that the military is ready to end “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 policy that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

Under the legislative terms of repeal outlined in December, the policy ends 60 days after the president, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, certify that the military is ready for the change.

After a meeting with Mullen and Panetta in the afternoon, the president released their certifications to the Armed Services committees of both houses of Congress.

“The final countdown to repeal begins today,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), said in a statement. “Service members celebrate this historic announcement, and they are ready for this change. Our nation's top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead, and now the President, Secretary Panetta, and Chairman Mullen have certified to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington Legislative office, also praised the move.

“Very soon, gay and lesbian service members will be able to serve their country openly, honestly and with the dignity they deserve and for far too long were denied,” she said in a statement.

Sarvis also renewed his call for the president to issue an executive order banning discrimination in the military based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Every service member deserves equal respect in the work environment. Signing legislation that allows for repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was necessary, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. It's critical that gay and lesbian service members have the same avenues for recourse as their straight counterparts when it comes to harassment and discrimination.”