Whether He’s Ready or Not, Obama to Face Gay Military Ban Test

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DEATH KNELL FOR DON’T ASK DON’T TELL? — An aide to Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.) says the congresswoman will introduce legislation today to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the decades-old ban on gays serving openly in the military. And with Tauscher putting the bill in front of legislators, she draws President Barack Obama into a political struggle he was hoping to avoid until at least later this year. You may remember how the issue totally consumed the early days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, but while Politico frets about a similar fate for Obama over the issue, our sense is that Obama knows what he’s doing, he’s reached out to the military already and that times have changed: The vast majority of Americans want to see Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed.

No word on whether Tauscher is acting with White House or Democratic leadership consent in introducing the bill, but the Service Member’s Legal Defense Network, which represents the brave gays and lesbians in uniform is ready to roll with whatever come their way, according to Politico:

“Even as the administration gathers its footing, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network — a group dedicated to changing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — is launching a new lobbying drive to repeal the restriction.

The group would prefer that Obama fold a repeal of the ban against gays in the military into the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2010, which is expected to be sent to lawmakers in late April, said Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.

“I expect this is an option they will be looking at at the White House and the Defense Department,” Sarvis said. “But I don’t know if it is an option that they will exercise.”

Either way, the issue is likely to arise during House Armed Services Committee hearings on the bill, he said. And that could expose inconsistencies among the president, the secretary of defense and the uniformed military.”

UPDATE: Because Congress called a “Snow Day” (read: Pelosi’s parties are getting out of control), the bill will be introduced tomorrow.