The President just signed the legislative repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell at the Department of the Interior in Washington. Margaret Witt, the Seattle native who was reinstated to the military in one of the last DADT trials, made it to the bill signing. It was a gathering of incredible people who put their lives on the line to stop this discriminatory policy.

And it almost got derailed at the last minute. But let’s be clear, it didn’t. Republicans tried to add an amendment to the defense authorization bill, an amendment expected during the debate, which would have given the service chiefs certification responsibilities for repealing the policy. That would have given Marine Commandant James Amos, who opposes repeal, the ability to block implementation. But Republicans pulled this back after objections were raised.

But Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader from Kentucky, said late Tuesday night that an objection from a senator had been registered to the last-minute amendment and that it would not be included as part of the defense authorization bill.

Mr. Stewart made the remarks after advocates of repeal scrambled late Tuesday night to assess the potential impact of the amendment and to prevent its inclusion in the otherwise uncontroversial military spending bill. A senior Democratic aide in the Senate said “this would be a poison pill for DADT repeal.”

They just want to pass the defense bill by unanimous consent and have it over with, so any objection would knock out the amendment. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see that amendment come up again at some point, but if supporters on the Senate side can hold out until repeal is implemented, or if the President simply threatens to veto, they can block it.

So with legislative repeal signed, the ball moves to the court of the Pentagon and the White House, to make repeal happen.

UPDATE: Just to cement this, the House and Senate passed the stripped-down defense authorization bill quickly today and sent it off to the President. And it doesn’t include that DADT poison pill. So there will be a defense authorization bill this year, as there has been every year since the 1950s.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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