Lawmakers in the House joined a Senate committee late Thursday in approving an amendment to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the law that forbids gay troops from serving openly.

With a 234 to 194 vote, representatives attached the amendment to next year's defense bill.

“At its core, this is a vote against discrimination and division, a symbolic gesture to the country and the world that Congress' commitment to equality will always triumph over inequality,” Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois and a strong advocate for repeal, said on the House floor.

The House is expected to vote on the national defense authorization bill Friday.

Repeal advocates cheered passage in both chambers of Congress but repeated their warning that the policy remains in place.

“The U.S. House and Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee both passed a historic roadmap to allowing open military service, but it doesn't end the discharges,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal, said.

Openly gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank called Thursday's votes “one of the most important advances in our fight against prejudice based on sexual orientation.”

“A very few years from now, it will be clear that the fears expressed by our opponents' arguments were totally without foundation,” Frank said in an email.

He also thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, and Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy “for their extraordinary leadership in bringing this about.”

Murphy was the lead sponsor of the measure in the House. On Tuesday, he predicted the House would approve the repeal measure.

Calling the law an “absurd and overtly discriminatory policy,” New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who voted against the policy in 1993, joined in calling for its end.

“I entirely reject the argument that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would undermine troop morale,” Nadler said on the House floor. “We don't need a study to know that this canard is simple prejudice.”

Earlier on Thursday, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee voted in favor of a similar measure.

Republicans, including Arizona Senator John McCain, the Senate's most ardent opponent of repeal, have threatened to block passage of the defense bill with a filibuster in the Senate.