Getting to work on DADT

GETTING TO WORK ON DADT…. During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama acknowledged his intention to scrap “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In January, Robert Gibbs reiterated the president’s support for ending the ineffective and discriminatory policy.

And today, we learn that the White House has at least started a review process, though it’s not entirely clear what kind of timeline may be in place.

The White House says President Barack Obama has begun consulting his top defense advisers on how to lift a ban on gays serving openly in the military.

“The president supports changing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” [White House spokesman Tommy Vietor] said in the e-mailed statement.

“As part of a long-standing pledge,” Obama has begun consulting closely with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen “so that this change is done in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security,” Vietor said.

That sounds relatively encouraging, but it would be even better if we had a sense of how long the review process is going to take. Indeed, the question itself isn’t that complicated: should well-trained, physically-fit, law-abiding, patriotic American volunteers be allowed to serve in the military, regardless of sexual orientation, or not? Do we want to discharge capable U.S. servicemen and women in the midst of two wars, based on nothing but their sexual orientation, or is military readiness a higher priority than some misguided culture war?

The question, I suppose, is what the administration will replace DADT with, and formulating the details of the policy may take a little time. That this work has at least ostensibly begun is, I hope, an encouraging sign.

What’s more, all of this comes on the heels of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) introducing legislation yesterday to repeal DADT. Her measure garnered 148 co-sponsors in the last Congress — including, by the way, some Republicans — but wasn’t brought to the floor for a vote.