Lawmakers in the House approved a bill
Wednesday to end “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 17-year-old law
that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.
The bill attracted wider support on its
second go around in the chamber, which approved the measure in May
when it was tucked inside an annual defense bill. The final 250 to
175 vote included 30 defections. Fifteen Republicans voted in favor
of repeal and 15 Democrats opposed it.
Repeal now moves back to the Senate,
where Republicans, led by Arizona Senator John McCain, have twice
before united to block its passage.
“This vote helps build momentum as we
push the Senate to take immediate action before the lame-duck session
ends,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal, said
in a statement.
“Advocates need to keep the pressure
on the Senate,” he added. “We'll still need 60 votes to complete
the bill and send it directly to the president's desk. We cannot
underestimate Senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell, who will do
everything they can to kill repeal.”
In a statement released Wednesday,
President Obama praised the vote: “We must ensure that Americans
who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated
fairly and equally by their country.”
After the Senate failed last week to
approve repeal language bundled within the defense bill, lawmakers
altered course and introduced a standalone version. The move
appears to have increased the chances of repeal in the Senate.