The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate late Thursday overwhelmingly (93-7) approved a $662 billion defense authorization bill that excludes two proposed anti-gay amendments.

The amendments, which were earlier approved in the House-passed bill, would overrule Pentagon guidance that allows military chaplains to officiate over the marriages of gay service members in states where it is legal.

In a memo issued by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley, chaplains may officiate the marriage and civil union ceremonies of gay couples, including on a military installation.

The amendments, sponsored by Republican Representatives Vicky Hartzer and Todd Akin of Missouri, stated that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law which bars federal agencies and the military from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples, prohibits the use of military facilities and the participation of military personnel in such ceremonies.

Altogether the Senate dropped 71 pending amendments, which could be introduced separately next week.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which worked to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” called the move “responsible.”

“SLDN is pleased the Senate has taken a responsible path and passed its National Defense Authorization Act without harmful language included by the House that is really nothing more than an assault on our nation's senior military leaders and rank-and-file service members, who are implementing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' successfully. The House version represents a partisan political attempt to interject the same-sex marriage debate and other unrelated social issues into the NDAA where they have no place. At SLDN, we urge the leadership to appoint conferees who will see this stunt for what it is and reject this language in conference.”

The bill must be reconciled with the House version in conference committee before a final version can go to the president for his signature.