As with any big vote, it came down to a matter of individual conscience in the end. The 8 GOP senators who sided with the Democrats on the issue of DADT repeal all expressed varying degrees of concern over how the new policy will be implemented, but the surprise vote of Senator Burr in favor of repeal revealed the the North Carolinian as conflicted:
The Republican senators voting "yes" with the Democrats on repeal were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.
But while Kirk and Ensign had previously indicated they were open to voting for repeal, Burr's vote came as a surprise even to the sponsors of the legislation. Collins, who led the charge for repeal in the Senate with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, said she lobbied every other GOP senator who voted for repeal, except for the North Carolina Republican.
"I was confident going into the vote today that we had six to seven votes. I didn't not expect eight," said Collins. "I was delighted but surprised with the vote from Sen. Burr. I think that was a gutsy vote and I was delighted. But he was not someone who I thought to lobby on the issue."
"It's just that we've had a generational change and I have vehemently objected to making a policy change of this magnitude at this time. When cloture was passed, that settled that," Burr said. "It's not accepted practice anywhere in our society, and it only makes sense. But again, I was vehemently opposed to the timing of this."
Burr was not speaking of homosexuality itself as "not accepted practice" but rather discriminating against gays. Mark Kirk, who was on the fence as late as Thursday, but eventually voted in favor of repeal:
"Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete," said Kirk. "The legislation before us provides our military leaders with the time they requested to change the policy."Only two of the yes votes are up for re-election in 2012: Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe.