Senate Achieves Cloture to Advance “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal

Lawmakers in the United States Senate voted early Saturday 63-33 to achieve the necessary super-majority to invoke cloture and proceed to an up-or-down vote on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) the military’s ban on openly gay service personnel.

The U.S. House had previously approved the measure, 250 to 175.

From The New York Times:

By a bipartisan vote of 63 to 33, the Senate acted to cut off debate on a measure that would allow President Obama to declare an end to the Clinton-era policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allows gay members of the armed forces to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret.


“I don’t care who you love,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said as debate opened. “If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.”

Mr. Wyden showed up for the Senate vote despite saying on Friday that he would be unable to do so because he would be undergoing final tests before his scheduled surgery on Monday for prostate cancer.


Opponents of lifting the ban said the change could harm the unit cohesion that is essential to effective military operations, particularly in combat, and deter some Americans from enlisting or pursuing a career in the military. They noted that despite support for repealing the ban from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other military commanders have warned that changing the practice would prove disruptive.

“This isn’t broke,” Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, said of about the policy. “It is working very well.”

Other Republicans said that while the policy might be need to changed at some point, Congress should not intrude on the issue now when American troops are fighting overseas.

What Happens Next in the DADT Repeal?

While this vote is significant in that it saw several Republican senators voting for cloture and therein to advance the repeal, another vote must now be taken to pass the repeal legislation.

The vote will require only a simple majority (50) to pass and therefore should be achievable.

The vote may occur as soon as Saturday evening.

The legislation will then go to President Obama’s desk. After his signature the policy will not be retired immediately, rather a period of at least sixty days has been earmarked for procedural matters, and the repeal will only go into effect once military leaders and the president have signed off on the change.

Also up for a cloture vote today was the DREAM Act, which failed. Read more about that here.

This is a breaking news story and will be added to. Updates will appear below:

UPDATE 1: For those interested in the Republican senators who voted in favor of cloture, they are:

  • Olympia Snow (ME)
  • Susan Collins (ME)
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK)
  • Scott Brown (MA)
  • Mark Kirk (IL)
  • George Voinovich (OH)

: CNN reports that the final vote on the DADT repeal will be set for 3PM Saturday

UPDATE 3: Below is President Obama’s statement on the cloture vote:

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.

As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.

I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.

UPDATE 4: The Senate has voted to pass the legislative repeal. Read more here.

Related Reading:

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to the U.S. Army Photostream.


Kathleen D.
Kathleen D8 years ago

This is worth applauding and I did just that. The really strange thing is that the closeted gays on the right have been the most persistent in opposing the repeal of DADT. How many have been outed because of their hypocritical stances opposing gay rights? And McCain, he has just gotten wierder as he gets older.

Janice L.
Janice Lawrence8 years ago

Thank Heaven that's over. Who cares who a soldier loves as long as he or she is a crack shot? Let's see, for instance: Would I rather have a gay sniper who can nail a Taliban from a mile and a half away or a straight sniper who can't shoot straight? Hmmm, hard question!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman8 years ago

Noted :-)

Marti Williams
Marti Williams8 years ago

They actually did something right !!!

Alicia N.
Alicia N8 years ago

noted with thanks.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L8 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Mary Roberts
Mary Roberts8 years ago

I agree,Ewoud k. let's wait and see, but apparently it will be YEAH!!! Thanks Steve.

Rose N.
Past Member 8 years ago

Thank you for posting.

Leonie T.
Leonie Trevanion8 years ago

Good news

donald baumgartner