Today the Senate voted 63-33 to cut off debate on a bill that will end the ban on gays serving openly in the military. They'll hold a final vote at 3 p.m., and the repeal is expected to pass.
CNN reports six Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill: Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, George Voinovich of Ohio, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Among them was not Republican Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who the New York Times quotes as saying, "This isn't broke... It is working very well." It's a little hard to believe he said that with a straight face, considering roughly 14,000 soldiers have been forced out of the military since "don't ask, don't tell" went into effect in 1993.
For this afternoon's vote, only a simple majority will be required to pass the bill. Then it will go to President Obama's desk to await his signature. Though the repeal is seen as a much-needed victory for the President, he may not sign it immediately, as he'll need to consult with Pentagon officials on a timetable for implementing the new policy. Even after he signs the bill, it's likely the repeal won't go into effect for at least 60 days.
For gay rights supporters, this is still reason to celebrate, particularly because a week ago it seemed like Republicans in Congress had killed the measure. In the words of Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who showed up for the vote even though he's about to undergo surgery for prostate cancer on Monday, "I don't care who you love... If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn't have to hide who you are."