The House voted Wednesday to repeal the military's ban on homosexuals, despite warnings from a Marine chief on the damages of overturning the policy.
The 250-175 vote now sends the issue to the Senate for what could be the last chance of ending the 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy any time soon.
"Now is the time for us to act," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "Close the door on a fundamental unfairness in our nation."
Earlier Wednesday, Gen. James Amos, the commanding general of the U.S. Marine Corps, warned that lifting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" could put Marines' lives in danger.
He said allowing gays to serve openly would disrupt the tight bond troops form while training for war.
"I don't want to lose any Marines to the distraction," Amos said. "I don't want to have any Marines that I'm visiting at Bethesda (Naval Medical Center) with no legs be the result of any type of distraction."
Amos disputed the argument that lifting the ban would affect the recruitment and reputation of the Marines as a tough fighting force.
Surveys from a Pentagon report revealed the majority of troops believed a change in the law would either have a positive effect or no impact at all on U.S. military effectiveness.
The measure is expected to have an uphill battle in the Senate.