Attempts to repeal a ban on gay people serving openly in the US military have suffered a setback after the Senate said no to a debate. Only 56 senators voted yes – four short of the number needed.
The move to end the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” appears in a bill to authorise defence programmes.
The White House has said it’s disappointed with the vote. It’s vowed to continue trying to abolish the measure which allows gay people to serve as long as they don’t reveal their sexuality, and prohibits recruiters from asking about it.
Earlier, veterans expelled from the military after falling foul of the policy joined a rally in Maine featuring a prominent campaigner.
“Should soldiers and the government be able to pick and choose what we are fighting for in the Constitution?” asked Lady Gaga. “I wasn’t aware of this ambiguity in our Constitution. I thought the Constitution was ultimate. I thought equality was non-negotiable.”
Democrats could try again later this year to pass the legislation. A recent poll suggested most Americans now accept openly gay military personnel. Republicans argue ending the ban could damage morale.