I'm delighted to hear that the procedural vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell has passed the Senate, 63 to 33. The final vote on repeal is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern time today—less than two hours from now as I write this. And that final vote needs only 51 votes to pass, so it should be able to do so easily.
I'm pleased to see that even more Republicans than expected voted yes:
Voting with the majority of Democrats were Republicans Scott Brown (MA), Mark Kirk (IL), George Voinovich (OH), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), and Olympia Snowe (ME).
A couple days ago, the House re-passed the repeal as a standalone bill (they had previously passed it only as part of the defense spending package that the Senate procedurally failed to pass), so if all goes well, in a couple of hours the repeal will have passed both houses and be headed for the President to sign.
Even assuming today's vote goes well, all is not smooth sailing. Obama has to sign it; presumably he will, given that he's been (more or less) pushing for a repeal for the past couple years. But after he signs it, the policy will remain in place for a while. First the Pentagon has to work out the details of the transition; after that, there'll be a waiting period. Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post explains:
Before gay men and lesbians can truly serve openly in the armed forces, Obama, Gates and Mullen must officially certify that the process of repealing DADT will not harm recruitment, retention and readiness, and that the Pentagon has readied the regulations and policies needed to transition to a post-DADT military. Then, 60 days later, the repeal will be complete.
So it's going to be at least two more months, and probably significantly longer. And as I understand it, anyone who comes out before the end of that 60-day waiting period can still be discharged.
So it's not over yet. But it looks like it will be soon.
It's appalling that we've lost over 13,000 servicemembers to this policy over the past seventeen years. Let's hope there won't be too many more.
As Greg Sargent at the Washington Post notes, there are a lot of people who deserve credit for making this happen. I'm not as willing to praise Reid or Obama on this as Sargent is, but it seems clear that Lieberman made an enormous contribution. Also deserving credit, imo, are the abovelisted aisle-crossing Republican senators, especially Collins, who co-sponsored the standalone vote and who voted yes on the earlier attempt. And very much deserving of credit are Admiral Mullen and Mr. Gates and all the brave servicemembers who stood up against this policy, especially Lt. Dan Choi, who for my money has done as much to move the Overton window on this issue as anyone. Also organizations like Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Servicemembers United. Like most such endeavors, this has been a group effort, involving a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people.
Also deserving credit: the general public. I suspect the legislature would've been a lot more reluctant to go through with repeal had it not been for 77% of Americans being in favor.
Very much not deserving of credit is John McCain, who apparently continued to whine today that the Senate shouldn't be doing this. Feh.
(On a side note, unrelated except chronologically: I'm sorry to see that today's other major vote, on the DREAM Act, failed, 55 to 41. By which I mean 55 yes votes, 41 no votes. In some contexts, getting 55 yes votes out of a hundred would mean that a measure would pass, but not for a cloture vote in today's Senate. Note that five Democrats voted no. (A different source says six; I haven't done the research to figure out which is right.) Feh again.)