CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote Thursday against advancing a repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members.
In a 57-40 vote, the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed on a key procedural move to start debate on overturning the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
The vote went largely along party lines.
Reversing the 1993 policy now looks unlikely to happen any time soon, although supporters vowed to try again before year's end.
In a statement, Manchin said he wanted to "make clear that my concern is not with the idea of repealing DADT, but rather an issue of timing."
"While I believe the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy will be repealed someday, and probably should be repealed in the near future, I do not support its repeal at this time," he said in the statement.
"I truly understand that my position will anger those who believe repeal should happen now, and for that I sincerely apologize," Manchin said. "While I am very sympathetic to those who passionately support the repeal, as a senator of just three weeks, I have not had the opportunity to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, also D-W.Va., voted to advance the repeal.
"Sen. Rockefeller believes this is fundamentally a military decision," spokeswoman Rebecca Gale said. "Our military leaders, after receiving extensive input at all levels, have asked for authority to chart a new course with the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, and Sen. Rockefeller has voted to support them."
President Obama urged senators to reconsider the issue by the end of the year, saying he was "extremely disappointed" in Thursday's vote. The provision to repeal DADT was attached to a defense-spending bill.