WASHINGTON – The US Senate was headed toward a landmark vote Saturday on legislation that would let gays serve openly in the military, testing waning opposition among Republicans and putting Democrats within striking distance of overturning "don't ask, don't tell."
Passage would be a historic victory for US President Barack Obama, who made repeal of the 17-year-old law a campaign promise in 2008. It also would be a political win for congressional Democrats who have struggled repeatedly in the final hours of the lame-duck session to overcome Republican objections.
A procedural vote was expected by noon. If at least 60 senators vote to advance the bill as expected, the legislation could pass as early as late afternoon. Republicans could demand extended debate time, but early indications were that they may not draw the process out further.
Gay rights groups said Saturday's vote was their best shot at changing the law because a new GOP-dominated Congress will take control in January.