Senate Votes 65-31 to Repeal Military's ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy

(NECN: Washington) - The U.S. Senate has voted to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning openly gay people from serving in the military. The vote passed by a vote of 65-31.

The vote will now go to the desk of President Obama to sign into law.

The bill means that gay people serving in the U.S. Military will be able to be open about their sexual orientation without possibly being dismissed for the first time in American history.

Massachusetts senator Scott Brown and Maine senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe were some of the 8 Republicans to vote in the bill's favor.

Over 13,500 servicemembers have been kicked out of the military for being gay since the 1993 policy became law.

Even after officially passing, the repeal will not take effect immediately. There will be at least a 60-day waiting period while the Pentagon prepares implementation.

President Barack Obama has said the policy denies "service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay."

Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, who co-sponsored the bill, called the passage a "reflection of the changing values of our society" and "one of the best days in my 22 years in the Senate."

"We should welcome the service of any qualified individual that is willing to put on the uniform of our country," said Maine senator Susan Collins, and thanked the gay and lesbian soldiers already fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.

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