Senate Passes ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal, Heads to Obama for Signature

BY News Desk  December 18, 2010 at 3:32 PM EST

The Senate voted 65-31 Saturday afternoon to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, marking a major victory for gay-rights advocates and fulfilling a campaign promise by President Obama to reverse the controversial 17-year-old policy.

After the House-passed measure cleared the Senate, it heads to President Obama to be signed into law.

Earlier in the day, the measure overcame a key procedural hurdle in a 63-33 vote. In a statement after the measure cleared the procedural vote, President Obama released a statement:

Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

At least 13,000 men and women have been expelled from the U.S. military under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allows gay men and women to serve as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret. It was implemented in 1993 under Democratic President Bill Clinton. President Obama vowed to end the policy, but he has faced opposition from Republicans.

But with a major tax-cuts bill signed into law and a Pentagon study released in favor of repealing the ban, several GOP senators joined Democrats in supporting the bill.

We’ll have much more about the historic vote and other weekend action in Congress Monday on The Rundown and on the NewsHour broadcast.