Last night, US President Barak Obama pledged to gay rights campaigners that he would end the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that bans gay people from being open about their sexuality while serving in the military.

“We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country,” Mr Obama told activists at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organisation.

“We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we’re fighting two wars.”

The policy dates from 1993 and prevents superiors asking about the sexual orientation of their charges but also means service-members must not engage in any “homosexual conduct”.

Since its inception almost 13,000 service-members have been dismissed under the law.

PinkNews.co.uk has frequently reported on the affects of the policy including service members seeking asylum, suicides and soliders discharged because of the policy.

In August, former US President Bill Clinton who brought the policy told activists: “I hated what happened. I regret it. But I didn’t have, I didn’t think at the time, any choice if I wanted any progress to be made at all.”

President of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese welcomed President Obama’s comments saying:”Tonight, President  Obama told LGBT Americans that his commitment to ending discrimination in the military, in the workplace and for loving couples and their families is ‘unwavering.’ 

“He made it crystal clear that he is our strongest ally in this fight, that he understands and, in fact, encourages our activism and our voice even when we’re impatient with the pace of change.  But these remarks weren’t just for us, they were directed to all Americans who share his dream and ours of a country where ‘no one is denied their basic rights, in which all of us are free to live and love as we see fit.'”

President Obama also pledged that “you will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.”

Britain’s Channel 4 News discussed President Obama’s speech and asked if the battle is nearly over for gay rights.