Two key votes in Congress Thursday put the U.S. military on a path toward ending its ban on openly gay troops, with the measure winning approval in the House and in a Senate committee. Throughout the debate, opponents claimed acting now would send the wrong message to troops fighting in two wars abroad, but supporters such as Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the only openly lesbian member of Congress, responded that it was actually the more patriotic thing to do. "In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is long past time for Congress to end this un-American policy," Baldwin said.

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