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Republicans Block Bill to Lift Military Gay Ban

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans have blocked an effort to repeal the law banning gays from serving openly in the military.

The partisan vote was a defeat for gay rights groups who saw the provision in a defense authorization bill as their last chance any time soon to overturn the law known as "don't ask, don't tell."

Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation, which authorized $726 billion in defense spending. The vote was 56-43.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins had been seen as the crucial 60th vote because she supports overturning the military ban. But Collins sided with her GOP colleagues in arguing that Republicans weren't given sufficient leeway to offer amendments to the wide-ranging policy bill.

The vote fell mostly along party lines, although Arkansas Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor sided with Republicans to block the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also voted against the measure as a procedural tactic. Under Senate rules, casting his vote with the majority of the Senate enables him to revive the bill at a later date.

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