In a landmark vote for gay rights, the Senate on Saturday voted to advance legislation that would overturn the military ban on openly gay troops known as "don't ask, don't tell."
The 63-33 test vote all but guarantees the legislation will pass the Senate, possibly by day's end, and reach the president's desk before the new year.
The House had passed an identical version of the bill, 250-174, earlier this week.
Repeal would mean that, for the first time in American history, gays would be openly accepted by the military and could acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being kicked out.
More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the 1993 law.