|Gay hero Lt. Daniel Choi, arrested in front of White House|
The military's prohibition of openly gay people serving within its ranks is one step closer to ending, after the Senate voted Saturday to repeal the armed forces' "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Eight Republicans and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut joined the chamber's Democrats to back the legislation, which passed around 3 p.m. by a 65-31 margin. The bill needed a simple majority -- meaning support from 51 of the Senate's 100 members -- to pass.
"I want to thank all of the gay men and women who are fighting for us today," said Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who pushed hard for the measure. "We honor your service, and now we can do so openly."
President Barack Obama will sign the bill into law next week, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a Twitter post moments after the Senate vote.
"Gay and lesbian service members -- brave Americans who enable our freedoms -- will no longer have to hide who they are," Obama said in an e-mailed statement to supporters. "The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one."
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