Eight Republicans bucked their party in backing the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, potentially risking a backlash from the conservative base while giving the historic vote a stronger bipartisan finish than many expected.
Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, George Voinovich of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Burr of North Carolina, Ensign from Nevada, plus Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe voted to end debate on the bill that would repeal the policy that bans openly gays service members.
In a major victory for gay rights advocates as well as President Obama, the Senate today voted to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military.
Now that the repeal bill has overcome its final hurdle in Congress, the president is expected to sign the measure into law next week, bringing to an end the 17-year-old policy and delivering Mr. Obama a victory on one of his chief campaign promises.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the sponsor of the legislation, cast it as an important civil rights bill that reflects “a step forward toward larger societal acceptance” of gay men and women.
Eight Republicans joined nearly every Democrat to vote for repeal. The Republicans voting for repeal were Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John Ensign (Nev.), Richard Burr (N.C.) and George Voinovich (Ohio).
“I want to thank all of the gay men and women that are fighting for us today in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Collins said after the vote. “We honor your service and now we can do so openly. This is indeed an historic day.”
Burr explained his surprise decision to vote yes on the final bill by saying that while he still feels the timing is wrong for repeal, he joined the majority because “this policy is outdated, and repeal is inevitable.”