Time will tell how the DADT repeal will work out in the field.
I think Obama will--rightly or wrongly--take some heat for pushing the repeal. And not solely from the anti-homosexual Right, too. There's an old saying about American politics: during times of deep recession, the three most important issues to the electorate are the economy, the economy--and the economy. Instead, Obama was pushing health reform and this repeal, among other things. One reason his party was punished back in November was because--rightly or wrongly--the electorate perceived Obama as being distracted and disconnected from those three most important issues.
If the death of DADT goes over poorly in the field, and Republicans win the White House and Congress in 2012, we may not have seen the last of DADT. Of course, if the economy is still flagging, Republicans may be reluctant to make restoring DADT a flagship issue for fear of being perceived as repeating Obama's purported neglect of the "Big Three" issues.
My impression on DADT. It's not the grunts on the field that will be the problem mostly (aside from a few exceptions) but the way the military handles it from the top down.
There have been some tragic episodes in the past (pre and post -DADT) and like I said before, the military culture is a lot more static and generally conservative to the 'average' slice of America. That being said, unlike the civilian world, the military CAN enforce changes like this. You go against the rule of Military Law..and they WILL hammer you flat. As it was pointed out a LOT of times by my bosses, and later by myself as a supervisor, we (the military) are here to protect democracy NOT practice it.
If it goes all the way through, the DoD will enforce the laws given to them. And the folks in the chain of command WILL do what they are told or suffer the consequences. The converse of this is that as they come out, homosexuals will have to see that they have to measure of to the same measure of conduct that the heterosexuals have to. Question is, will it be okay for them to be punished for fraternizing and such? Or will there be a lot of the same sort of stuff that happened after Tailhook?
The reason that I ask, is that for several years after Tailhook and the hearings, it was exceedingly easy for a woman to get a guy into trouble in some sections of the military. It was seen by the grunts at the lower levels as 'we can't win' against such claims. Not every woman did this mind, hell I can only name 3 in my 15 years in the Navy that did it. But the ones that did, damaged a lot of people's perceptions. I saw one particular woman damage no less than 10 careers before she finally fell on her own sword. (It took no less than going UA (Unexcused Absence) overnight in Dubai with a Senior Chief to do it)
I hope that there is no flashback in either way BUT I think there will be. No matter who gets hurt, I hope it's not used as a bludgeon that our troops will have to suffer through like they did with the Tailhook scandal.