The House Armed Services Committee late Wednesday OK'd an amendment to the defense budget that aims to slow down repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

The amendment, offered by Republican Duncan Hunter of California, was adopted with a 33 to 27 vote.

Congress approved repeal of the law during its lame-duck session in December. As approved, the military would implement repeal of the law 60 days after President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen – the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – certify that the military is ready for the change. In testimony before Congress last month, Pentagon officials said they expect the policy to be lifted this fall.

Hunter's measure would require the four service chiefs also sign off on repeal of the policy.

The California Republican first announced the measure in January, soon after the officials offered testimony in support of keeping the law in place and condemned repeal in interviews.

Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos was the most vocal, but Air Force and Army chiefs also expressed concerns over ending the policy.

Amos suggested that soldiers might die if Congress repeals “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

“Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives,” he told the Pentagon's Stars and Stripes. “That's the currency of this fight.”

“I take that very, very seriously,” Amos added. “I don't want to lose any Marines to that distraction. I don't want to have any Marines that I'm visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center, in Maryland] with no legs be the results of any type of distraction.”

But in testimony before Congress last month, Amos reversed course, saying “there hasn't been the recalcitrant push back, there hasn't been the anxiety over it from the forces in the field”

“And I'm looking specifically for issues coming out of the tier II and tier III training and to be honest with you, chairman, we've not seen it,” Amos testified.

Republicans opposed to repeal offered two additional anti-gay amendments.

Missouri Representative Vicky Hartzler's amendment would define marriage as a union between a man and woman for the purpose of military benefits, regulations and policy. It was approved on a 39-22 vote.

A third amendment would prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying on military bases and ban military personnel from participating in such ceremonies. Missouri Representative Todd Akin offered his measure after the Navy announced that chaplains would be allowed to officiate at gay marriages and civil union ceremonies once “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is lifted. Akin and 63 members of the Republican caucus forced the Navy to reconsider. Akin's amendment was adopted with a 38 to 23 vote.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal, called the amendments an attempt to inject the politics of the gay marriage debate into the repeal process.

“These adopted amendments to delay and derail repeal are a partisan political attempt to interject the same-sex marriage debate and other unrelated social issues into the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] where they have no place.”

“Make no mistake – these votes should be a wake-up call to supporters of open service that our work is not done,” he added.