It seems almost impossible in this political climate but yes, in just a couple hours, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, will no longer be official government policy. This historic acknowledgment of the right of gay men and women to serve openly in the American military feels like a dramatic shift leftward. That this policy change can happen at the same moment that the GOP has just made substantial gains in Congress and President Obama seems to have become convinced that he must govern in as centrist a manner as possible is particularly extraordinary.
Maybe it will be revealed later that DADT repeal is part of a broader quid pro quo. Perhaps it just means the Republican leadership in Congress has decided they don't need the social/religious conservatives as much as they have in the recent past. Otherwise, why would the GOP allow the final vote to happen so quickly? Forcing the DADT vote to happen on a Sunday, after the morning talk shows, seems the play to make if you want to rally the religious right. Simply ceding ground here is puzzling.
Unless, that is, the GOP has come to realize that most Americans have finally come around to legitimately accepting that all of us have certain fundamental rights. Even the military brass seems to generally recognize this and, as a friend at a service academy told me recently, "Even though it's [DADT repeal] uncomfortable for us to think about, we know they're [gays] people too". Yes, gays are people too.
Ultimately, I believe the broader implication is that we are continually moving toward a country that has full(er) social inclusion for gays and lesbians. I have argued previously that I believe half the states will have a marriage/civil union option within the next decade. This is another overdue step in that direction.
Congratulations, Congress. Thanks for doing the right thing.