[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/12/18/senate.dadt/c1main.senate2.senatetv.jpg caption="Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting to repeal 'don't ask, don' tell.'" width=300 height=169]
CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - 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 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, of Maine, one of several Republicans who voted 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 said in a Twitter post moments after the Senate vote.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, applauded Congress's action, which he said "preserves the military's prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner."
"It is the right thing to do," he said in a statement. "No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result."
Updated: 4:13 pm
CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - The Senate will hold a final vote on "don't ask, don't tell" at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Earlier Saturday, the Senate voted 63-33 to proceed to a final vote to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy which bans openly gay people from serving in the armed forces.
Six Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill, which is supported by Democrats and President Obama. A simple majority will pass the legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell."
Following the 3 p.m. vote, the Senate will consider an amendment from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, on START, a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also announced that the Senate will be in session Sunday afternoon to continue the START debate.
Just before the "don't ask, don't tell" vote, a bill that would have offered a path to citizenship to some illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children failed a similar procedural vote.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama asked for advice a long time ago, and I’ve been sending letters pretty much every day since. They’re not all full of advice, but they are certainly persistent.
Dear Mr. President,
I am so glad it is Saturday. I’ve mentioned how much work has been stacking up lately, but you don’t know the half of it. Or maybe you do. I assume from your lack of phone calls or letters back to me that you must be pretty busy yourself.
Did you see this absurd story out of Birmingham, Alabama, about the vandals/thieves/Scrooges who set fire to the town’s Christmas tree? Apparently it was some kind of wacky bid to steal about $20 worth of copper wiring. The details of this crime remain shaky for me. I can’t figure out precisely how it would have been a money making venture for the miscreants even if it had worked properly. I mean, subtract the gas to get there, their time, the matches, the work to snatch up a bunch of smoking hot copper wiring…I just don’t see the profit margin being worth the effort.
In any event, it really makes we wonder what some folks are thinking these days. I know times are tough. I know a lot of people feel kind of desperate. But burning down the Christmas tree?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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