It’s only a day early. But it’s more the directive given by Robert Gates that matters.

Signaling the growing seriousness of the Obama administration’s commitment this year to ending the military’s ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces, the Defense Department said Sunday that it will release a long-awaited report on the matter earlier than planned because senators are eager to vote on whether to repeal the policy.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered the report to be released on Nov. 30, one day earlier than planned, “to support Congress’s wish to consider repeal before they adjourn,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Sunday.

I’m guessing that the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to hold hearings on the survey on November 30 rather than December 1, as part of their timeline for getting the defense authorization bill to the floor. I think it’s positive that Gates is accommodating them. The Senate won’t be back in session until Monday, November 29, so the Pentagon could have technically released the survey two days early, though the timing of the hearing was probably the major factor here.

Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen are expected to testify at the hearing, along with the co-chairs of the report, Gen. Carter Ham of the Army and General Counsel of the Pentagon Jeh Johnson.

Harry Reid has promised a vote after Thanksgiving for the defense authorization bill, with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell attached. Several Senators in both parties have said the results of the Pentagon survey would be crucial for their vote.