Add the New York Times to the list of those surprised by Sen. Richard Burr’s “yes” vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Hence, this story:

The Republican senator from North Carolina was blunt. “Because she’s a damn lesbian,” Jesse Helms snapped, explaining to The Washington Times why he would vote against Roberta Achtenberg, President Bill Clinton’s nominee for assistant housing secretary. Later, he clarified, calling her “a militant, activist, mean lesbian.”

That was in 1993. On Saturday, another North Carolina Republican, Richard M. Burr, stood on the Senate floor and surprised gay rights advocates by voting to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Mr. Burr said repeal was “generationally right” given that most Americans have grown up in a time where “they don’t think exclusion is the right thing for the United States to do.”