Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on Tuesday said he would schedule hearings as soon as the Pentagon finishes its report on the implications of repealing the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.
The outcome of the push to repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" is uncertain. The provision to roll back the Clinton-era law is included in the 2011 defense authorization bill. Levin's GOP counterpart on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), promised to filibuster the bill because of the repeal provision and another one regarding abortions in military hospitals.
The report on repeal is due on Defense Secretary Robert Gates's desk on Dec.1. The study likely will be used to fuel arguments on both sides of the debate.
Proponents of ending the ban on openly gay service members are likely to use the hearings on the Pentagon’s report as a last-ditch effort to try and rally support for repeal.
Levin said that he wants to see the "Don't ask" repeal and the defense authorization bill pass during the lame-duck session.
In the face of a compressed post-election schedule, the Senate has yet to overcome procedural hurdles before the defense authorization bill is considered. Even if the Senate manages to pass its version of the defense bill, negotiations between the upper and lower chamber could stall the final bill. Three of the top four negotiators oppose repealing “don’t ask,” at least for now.