Gay rights advocates waiting for the Senate to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" got the message loud and clear from Republicans on Tuesday -- don't hold your breath.
Senate Republicans have blocked a military spending bill that includes a repeal of the controversial policy, using a filibuster the Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome.
Democrats failed to come up with the necessary votes, and despite support from Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.-N.Y.), the bill was stalled by a vote of 56-43.
Even a headline-grabbing rally held by Lady Gaga on Monday didn't sway Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who announced she wouldn't vote to advance the bill because Democrats hadn't incorporated enough flexibility to allow Republicans to amend the legislation tied to the repeal.
With a tough fight ahead for Democrats in this fall's midterm elections, advocates worry their window of opportunity is closing.
"The whole thing is a political train wreck," Richard Socarides, a Clinton-era White House adviser on gay rights, told The Associated Press ahead of the vote on Tuesday. "If it was a priority for the Democratic leadership, they would get a clean vote on this."
Reid slammed Republicans before the vote, saying the anticipated defeat represented the "GOP's pattern of obstructing debate on policies important to the American people."
"Don't ask, don't tell," enacted in 1993, requires gay soldiers to hide their sexuality in order to serve.
Roughly 13,000 men and women have been discharged from the military under the law since it was put in place.
With News Wire Services