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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Achieves Major Victory, Passes Senate Cloture Vote 63-33

Moments ago, in a vote of 63-33 the Senate invoked cloture on a bill to repeal the 17-year-old Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, paving the way for final passage in the coming days hours. The House passed the measure on Wednesday.

Democrats delivered eloquent speeches in support of open service. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said, “I’m here because men and women wearing the uniform of the United States who are gay and lesbian have died for this country, because gay and lesbian men and women wearing the uniform of this country have their lives on the line right now in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places for this country.” Immediately before the vote, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), who has been the strongest advocate of repeal in the Senate, urged his colleagues to repeal the ban, saying “We’ve come to a point in our history, I hope, where neither race nor religion, ethnicity, or gender, or sexual orientation should deprive Americans of serving the country as the patriots they are.”

Throughout the debate, Republicans cherry picked statistics from the Pentagon report, complained about the process of bringing the measure to the floor and relied on folksy sayings like, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to make their case for preserving the policy. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — the biggest supporter of the policy — even conceded that Democrats probably had the votes to pass the measure, before launching into a an awkward condemnation of liberal “bastions and Georgetown cocktail parties.” Watch a compilation:

Six Republicans, including Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), George Voinovich (R-OH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) all voted for the measure. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) — the only Democrat to support the Republican filibuster of the measure earlier this month — did not vote.

UPDATE

The final vote on repeal may occur as early as today at 3pm.

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