1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix
WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked an effort to repeal the ban on gays from serving openly in the military, handing gay rights groups a defeat in their last chance any time soon to overturn the law known as "don't ask, don't tell."
Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation, which authorized $726 billion in defense spending. The vote was 56-43.
Advocates of lifting the 17-year-old ban had been optimistic that the Democratic-controlled White House and Congress could overcome objections to repeal. Gay rights advocates now worry they have lost a crucial opportunity to change the law.
An estimated 13,000 people have been discharged under the law since its inception in 1993. Although most dismissals have resulted from gay service members outing themselves, gay rights' groups say it has been used by vindictive co-workers to drum out troops who never made their sexuality an issue.