The House voted Wednesday to repeal the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The 250-175 vote advances action to the Senate for what could be a last chance, for now, to end the law that for 17 years has forced gays serving in the military to conceal their sexual identity. Wisconsin’s House delegation voted along party lines: Democrats Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore, Dave Obey and Steve Kagen voted yes, Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri and Paul Ryan voted no. “I think it sends a really strong message to the U.S. Senate, said Baldwin, founder and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “While we recognize a very historic vote today, we won’t really be celebrating until the president signs into law a repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Baldwin called the policy “un-American” because it forces service members to “conceal, deceive, and lie.” Citing a recently released Pentagon study, Moore said “letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the armed services will not have a significant impact on troop morale or unit cohesion. “
Democratic leaders in the Senate say they are committed to bringing the bill to the floor before Congress adjourns for the year. The issue has split the military: Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other senior leaders support lifting the restrictions, while the head of the Marine Corps repeated his opposition this week, saying that lifting the ban during wartime could cost lives.