WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is one of eight Republican Senators who broke party lines and voted Saturday to repeal the 17-year policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The law will allow gays to serve openly in the military and acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being kicked out.

The Senate vote was 65-31. The House had passed an identical version of the bill, 250-175, on Wednesday.

Senator John Kerry also voted in support of the repeal.

WBZ News Radio’s Art Cohen talks with Kara Suffredini, Executive Director, MassEquality

Obama was expected to sign it next week, although the change wouldn’t take immediate effect. The legislation says the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ fighting ability. After that, there’s a 60-day waiting period for the military.

“It is time to close this chapter in our history,” Obama said in a statement after a test vote cleared the way for final action. “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.”

More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the 1993 law.

Sen. John McCain, Obama’s GOP rival in 2008, led the opposition. The Arizona Republican acknowledged he didn’t have the votes to stop the bill and he blamed elite liberals with no military experience for pushing their social agenda on troops during wartime.

“They will do what is asked of them,” McCain said of service members. “But don’t think there won’t be a great cost.”

WBZ News Radio’s Art Cohen talks with Kris Mineau, President, Massachusetts Family Institute

In addition to Sen. Brown, the Republicans who broke party lines are Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, George Voinovich of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and John Ensign of Nevada.

Advocacy groups who lobbied hard for repeal hailed the vote as a significant step forward in gay rights. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network called the issue the “defining civil rights initiative of this decade.”

Supporters of repeal filled the visitor seats overlooking the Senate floor, ready to protest had the bill failed.

“This has been a long fought battle, but this failed and discriminatory law will now be history,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The Pentagon study found that two-thirds of service members didn’t think changing the law would have much of an effect. But of those who did predict negative consequences, a majority were assigned to combat arms units. Nearly 60 percent of the Marine Corps and Army combat units, such as infantry and special operations, said in the survey they thought repealing the law would hurt their units’ ability to fight.

The Pentagon’s uniformed chiefs are divided on whether this resistance might pose serious problems.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos has said he thinks lifting the ban during wartime could cost lives.

“I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction,” he told reporters this week. “I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda (Naval Medical Center) with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”

Adm. Mike Mullen and Marine Gen. James Cartwright, the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively, have said the fear of disruption is overblown. They note the Pentagon’s finding that 92 percent of troops who believe they have served with a gay person saw no effect on their units’ morale or effectiveness.

Among Marines in combat roles who said they have served alongside a gay person, 84 percent said there was no impact.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (18)
  1. cynic says:

    It is only a question of what level of perversion is to be acceptable in our Society.Obviously the bar has been set very low. The only ones that may not approve of the direction this takes us is the people but they aren’t being allowed to have a say in the matter.

  2. cynic says:

    In spite of what the Media,Judges and Politicians would have us believe. I don’t the the People are clamoring for a Sick Society. Evertywhere they have been ALLOWED to speak they have said>..NO.

  3. cynic says:

    Of course I meant “I don’t believe the people are”” and “Everywhere”. Iwish the page were easier to see.”

  4. massman says:

    Keep speaking Cynic. It is the outspoken bigots like you that help the rest of society realize just how wrong your views are. Good job doing the right hing Mr. Brown.

    1. cynic says:

      Massman…Let the People decide….What are you afraid of?

  5. busymom says:

    I agree with massman. Sexual orientation does not hurt anyone.. It is a choice based on preference. Cynic, are you against choices that others make that are not what you would choose.. Is setting the bar too low based on the fact that you disagree with someone else’s choice? Do you actually hear yourself? What are you afraid of? During this season on giving maybe you could give yourself the gift of introspection. Like the grinch it may even warm your heart.

  6. Mann says:

    Cynic, I think you have a right to your opinion just as everyone else has a right to theirs. I believe we are all given choices in life and I’m good with that as long as my choices don’t hurt anyone. As far as relealing DADT, time will prove whether or not this will do any harm. All of our soldiers are making sacrafices for us and I would pray none of them are harmed. There are so many serious and important issues that face our nation today, and I just wish this type of issue didn’t have to take presidence. My heartfelt thanks to all our military personnel and prayers for your safety. Merry Christmas to all.

    1. cynic says:

      Busymom and Mann…. It’s not a choice….It’s a sickness and no amount Chicanery by the Judges and Media is going to change that> It’s just a Question of will Society tolerate Perversion as a part of Society.

  7. Mann says:

    I respectfully disagree with the person who said, “sexual orientation doesn’t hurt anyone.” Immediately the pedophile comes to mind. What the heck, it’s their sexual orientation, right? How about our obsession with sex and the of commitment today? Think of all the STD’s that are hurting others. I woud aay sexual orientation other then in a monogomous relationship absolutely hurts others.

    1. cynic says:

      AIDS “Doesn’t hurt anyone”?

  8. Mann says:

    Should read, “the LACK of commitment.

  9. cynic says:

    By choosing which comments to Publish and which to delete a suppose one could create any impression it wanted

  10. massman says:

    Cynic – The people did decide, although they shouldn’t be voting on whether or not a minority group deserves equal rights.
    Mann – Monogamy is not a sexual orientation. Bringing up pedophilia during this issue states your ignorance.
    Do you bigots ever just give it a rest?

    1. cynic says:

      You’re riding on the coattails of the real victims of discrimination.

  11. CEO says:

    In the big scheme of things this is a trivial issue. Why are our politicians and senior military officials spending so much time on this? There is a long list of higher priority issues they should be addressing around national security than worry about appeasing a bunch of whiners.

  12. massman says:

    CEO – It’s probably the biggest civil rights issue in the last decade. It will undoubtedly cause a snowball effect for other gay right issues. You’d be a fool to think same sex marriage won’t be legal in all states in the near future. And as the country’s largest employer, the military has now ended its discriminatory practices. So, no, this issue is far from trivial.

  13. CEO says:

    massman, what world do you live in? First off, this really doesn’t qualify as a civil rights issue and trying to imply that just belittles the entire civil rights movement. Second, we’re talking such a small, insignificant percentage of the population that it is indeed trivial.

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