By a vote of 65 to 31, the Senate this afternoon voted to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins supported the repeal, joining six other Republicans supporting the measure.

“Given the current demands on U.S. service members in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the legislation passed today does not direct immediate repeal, but rather requires the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in consultation with the service chiefs, to develop a detailed plan prior to executing repeal of the policy,” Snowe said in a statement.

“That plan must support the recruiting and retention needs of our military while protecting unit cohesion and military readiness, which Defense Secretary Gates testified before Congress is a prerequisite for earning his certification of repeal.”

In addition to Snowe and Collins, other Repubicans supporting the measure were Scott Brown, Richard Burr, John Ensign, Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski and George Voinovich joined Democrats. Burr and Ensign did not vote with the Democrats earlier in the day when the GOP filibuster was broken, but signed on for the final vote.

Continued Snowe in her statement, “I also believe this legislation will mitigate additional concerns related to the threat of federal court action preemptively ruling against the constitutionality of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.  As Secretary Gates testified, a decision to this effect could have left the Department of Defense without time to implement an appropriate plan for repeal, which he called the ‘worst imaginable outcome’ that presents a ‘very high risk’ for our military.”