House approves 'Don't ask' repeal, 250-175

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation to repeal the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.

Lawmakers approved a standalone repeal bill by a vote of 250-175. Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) gaveled the vote closed.

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Congressional supporters of repeal resorted to a standalone bill to scrap the Clinton-era ban after efforts failed twice in the Senate to debate the 2011 defense authorization bill, the original vehicle for the repeal of the "Don't ask, don't tell" law. The House earlier this year passed its version of the defense bill, which contained a provision to repeal the ban.

The fate of repeal now lies in the Senate, where Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a standalone bill to repeal the ban. Senate leaders are fighting to get the bill passed before the upper chamber adjourns for the year, and face a tough schedule given a calendar crowded with must-pass legislation. The upper chamber might not get to vote on repeal until later this week or early next. 


President Obama pledged during the presidential campaign and several times as president to scrap the law. 

After the Pentagon completed a 10-month study into the implications of repealing "Don't ask, don't tell," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the case to Congress to allow for the law to be repealed through legislation rather than letting the issue play out in the courts. A California judge already ruled the ban unconstitutional. The Obama administration is appealing that decision.

"Secretary Gates is pleased that the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.  "He encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts."

This story was updated at 5:27 p.m.