More movement on DADT

MORE MOVEMENT ON DADT…. It looks like we may finally see Congress move to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” early in the new year. That’s not soon enough for the servicemen and women whose careers are being needlessly cut short, but it’s evidence of some movement on the issue.

Congress could move early next year to repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays serving in the military. […]

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a leading proponent of gay rights and close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), earlier this week predicted the House would move on the issue.

“Early next year we will be moving on ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ” Frank told Headline News.

In the House, Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Pa.) H.R. 1283 now has 181 co-sponsors, including five who signed on in the last week or so. There have been other bills to overturn DADT, but none has come close to generating this kind of support.

In the Senate, we learned this week that White House officials have begun working with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on advancing a repeal. While the independent senator has been a stunning disappointment on a variety of issues, Lieberman has always opposed DADT and may be positioning himself as the primary sponsor to undo the law.

The White House, in addition to engaging Lieberman on this directly in the hopes of generating some momentum, is also filling the key Pentagon slot for the implementation of the new policy. Ben Smith reported the other day, “The appointment of retired Marine General Clifford Stanley as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness is being hailed by a key group that represents gay soldiers as a major advance toward repeal — suggesting the White House is moving closer to backing legislation that would reverse the measure.”

There was some talk this week that addressing the issue in 2010 may prove problematic because it’s a controversial measure in an election year. I tend to think that’s a ridiculous reason to put off the effort. For one thing, governing can’t stop every other year, just because lawmakers are scared of upsetting people. For another, the Democratic majorities are likely to be much smaller in 2011, so there’s no time like the present.

And perhaps most important, it’s to stop thinking about a DADT repeal as “controversial.” It’s not — most of the American military and most American civilians both support ending the nonsensical policy.