As a step toward repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, top Defense Department officials will inform the Senate Tuesday that they will refrain from pursuing disciplinary action against gay servicemembers who are outed by third parties. Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen are expected to predict it could take years to get to the point where gays and lesbians can serve openly. Gates and Mullen are forming a group to outline how it can be done, addressing such questions as whether quarters will be integrated and if there will be restrictions on exhibiting sexual behavior while on the job. "I don't think anyone is underestimating the seriousness of the issue, or the complexity of it," said a senior military official. Despite the plan, some gay activists worry the Pentagon will "drag its heels," but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says Obama will fulfill his promise to end the ban.