It looks like the U.S. Senate will get one more chance to do the right thing and end the discriminatory policy against gays in the military known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

A week ago it looked dead, thanks to ham-handed management by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who tried to move repeal within a defense bill in a rushed process. Reid could not muster enough votes to break a Republican filibuster, despite the support of Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

But now the House has passed a standalone repeal bill (supported by Maine Democrats Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud) that is headed to the Senate without the same procedural baggage, and Sen. Olympia Snowe has added her name to the list of supporters. The entire Maine delegation is on the right side of this issue.

Under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a service member can be investigated and discharged from the military if any “reliable person” makes a statement that they have become aware that the service member is gay. That information could be the result of a direct conversation, but it could also be something that was overheard or casually spied in an e-mail or on the back of a post card. Thousands of people have been discharged from the military under this policy, costing the nation their talent and commitment to service. Ending the policy would not introduce gay people to the military — many have served throughout our history.

But it would mean they could serve without the fear that a stray comment might end their careers.

It’s equally important to recognize what passage of the repeal bill would do. Unlike a court order, which would demand an immediate end to the ban on service by people who are gay, this bill would authorize the secretary of defense and military commanders to develop an orderly transition, which would support recruiting and retention goals for the armed services and mitigate any effect on unit cohesion.

While no one can predict what the courts will decide, there are numerous legal challenges to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and a federal district court ruling that found it unconstitutional. The orderly process that would come from action by Congress is better than the courts’ blunt instrument.

The Senate may have another chance to do the right thing next week. We hope they haven’t run out of time.