Late on May 27, the United States Congress conducted the first series of votes that might lead to repealing the policy that bans openly gay Americans from serving in the military.
The Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House approved measures to overturn the 1993 law, which marks a significant victory for President Barack Obama who has supported ending the policy.
The move was also praised by gay rights organizations, with Joe Salomonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, saying that "lawmakers today stood on the right side of history," quoted by The Associated Press (AP).
Moreover, there are signs that the measure has broad support from the American public.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey found that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military, with one in five (20 percent) opposed.
Conservative Family Research Council (FRC) is among those opponents, and it has staged a series of events in Washington in recent weeks to prevent the change from taking place. After the vote, its president Tony Perkins issued a statement saying that "among the casualties of forcing homosexuality on the military will be the religious freedom of those who serve."
The 234-194 House vote was an amendment to a defense spending bill.