The law that prohibits openly gay individuals from serving in the military has been repealed by Congress and now awaits signature by President Barack Obama.
The Senate voted 65-31 to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) on Dec. 18, clearing the last hurdle before the bill heads to the President's desk. Obama is expected to sign the measure into law on Dec. 22. However, the implementation of the repeal may take several months because Obama and his top advisers must first certify that the new law will not affect the military's ability to fight, according to FOX News.
In a written statement, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised the Senate's historic vote to eliminate the 17-year-old policy.
"It is a galvanizing victory for individual civil rights in our country, grounded in enduring American values," said Leahy. "Removing a discriminatory barrier for some Americans underscores the rights of all Americans."
The repeal does have its critics, including Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, McCain said that he has heard from thousands of active and retired military personnel, who do not support the repeal of DADT. He added that allowing openly gay soldiers in the military will cause "distractions" and will lead to gold stars being placed on windows throughout America, which signifies the death of a family member in the armed forces.