The armed forces' controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will soon be history.
On Saturday (December 18), the Senate voted to repeal the 17-year-old measure that bars openly gay men and women from serving in the military. The bill passed by a 65-31 margin, according to CNN, which included eight republicans and one independent who joined the Democrat-backed initiative. President Obama will sign the bill into law next week.
"Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love," the president said in a statement. Calls to dismantle the policy ramped up this year with stars such as Lady Gaga decrying the measure and demonstrations cropping up around the nation. On Wednesday, the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had been crusading to end the policy, tweeted to Gaga after the vote, "We did it! #DADT is a thing of the past."
Gaga, who arrived at the 2010 MTV VMAs with openly gay service members who had been discharged or left the military due to the policy, made viral videos and spoke at a September rally calling for the end of DADT, tweeted about her emotional reaction to the vote.
"Can't hold back the tears+pride. We did it!i Our voice was heard + today the Senate REPEALED DADT. A triumph for equality after 17 YEARS," she wrote.
Openly gay talk-show queen Ellen DeGeneres tweeted, "Thank you Senators for pushing us one step closer towards full equality."
Katy Perry showed her support for the repeal of DADT by responding to a missive that fellow songstress Pink retweeted.
"SUPPORTING ALL OUR TROOPS!" Perry added to Pink's retweet, "RT @Pink: Congrats 2 US!!! REPEAL of DADT & 17 years of allowing Human Rights Violations. There's hope after all!"
Former army lieutenant and gay-rights activist Dan Choi, who has called for an end to the policy since he was discharged from service after publicly coming out in 2009, also gave his take on the vote.
"Thank you, Democrats, for your leadership," he tweeted. "There: I said it. Also, thank you 8 Republicans. You're on the right side of history."
MTV News also caught up with student Bridget Todd, who once questioned President Obama about DADT during the commander-in-chief's "A Conversation with President Obama" forum in October. Although Todd said she was skeptical of the president's commitment to ending the policy after the Obama administration asked for stay blocking a judge's ruling that the measure is unconstitutional, she said the Senate vote has restored some of her faith in the U.S. leader.
"I think it's fantastic. I'm over the moon about it," Todd said. "It's sort of strange that it's 2010 and we're dealing with this so I'm happy that it's done, I'm happy that it's gonna be over with.
"I think I said that he displayed an alleged commitment to gay equality," she continued. "I think that this sort of proves that perhaps he is actually committed to these issues. They're not just sort of political talking points that you use to get elected — that this is something that he is willing to make happen."