Senate Republicans shot down the efforts to repeal the law banning gays from serving openly in the military. Senators voted 56-43, failing to get the 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster and allow an actual vote on ending the ban.
The don’t ask, don’t tell law was enacted in 1993 and has been targeted by President Obama for repeal, and a federal judge in California this month declared it unconstitutional.
More than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the policy for being openly gay, experts say.
Even pop goddess Lady Gaga’s trek to Maine on Monday couldn’t sway the vote in the right direction. Some Pentagon officials believe the repeal would have been passed if elections times weren’t around the corner.
The outcome looked the grimmest early Tuesday when Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a key Republican who supported the repeal told reporters she was switching sides to vote against it.
Democrats were at least one vote short of the 60 needed to block a GOP filibuster. Sen. Susan Collins one of two Republicans that were for the repeal, was there best prospect to obtain the 60 votes.
When she announced her decision against the bill on Tuesday morning she said, “It’s the right thing to do. I think it’s only fair’ to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. ‘But I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that’s going to shut down the debate and preclude Republican amendments. That, too, is not fair.’
Gay rights supporters believe it will be years before another attempt can be made to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the U.S. military.