Senators to call for full-court press on 'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal

Some of the chief supporters of repealing the ban on openly gay people serving in the military are upping their pressure on Congress to scrap the law this year.

Nine senators will be joined by the nation’s most prominent gay rights organizations on Thursday to make the case that Congress should repeal the Clinton-era law, known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” as part of the massive 2011 defense authorization bill.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Mark UdallMark UdallEnergy issues roil race for Senate Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium Two vulnerable senators lack challengers for 2016 MORE (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCarter pledges probe of sex assault testimony Senate panel backs B water bill with Flint aid The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Calif.), Ron WydenRon WydenFeds list schools that sought exemption from discrimination statute IRS: Annual unpaid tax liability was 8B Overnight Cybersecurity: Fight over feds' hacking powers moves to Congress MORE (D-Ore.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Overnight Cybersecurity: Voter data breaches spark fraud concerns Overnight Regulation: FDA campaign targets smoking in LGBT community MORE (D-Vt.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment MORE (D-Calif.), and Al FrankenAl FrankenJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Senate passes resolution honoring Prince Senators aim to bolster active shooter training MORE (D-Minn.) will hold a press conference at the Capitol Visitors Center at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. They will be joined by representatives from the Human Rights Campaign; the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; Servicemembers United; the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the Third Way.

Repeal still faces an uphill battle in Congress because of opposition from key Republicans, including Sen. John McCainJohn McCainExperts warn weapons gap is shrinking between US, Russia and China McCain delivers his own foreign policy speech Republicans who vow to never back Trump MORE (Ariz.), who said he would filibuster a defense bill that contains the provision. Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinCarl, Sander Levin rebuke Sanders for tax comments on Panama trade deal Supreme Court: Eye on the prize Congress got it wrong on unjustified corporate tax loopholes MORE (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a key supporter of repeal, said that he would hold hearings immediately after the Pentagon releases a report on the implications of repealing the ban. That report is due Dec. 1.

The report and hearings could breathe some life into the efforts to repeal the ban, but much depends on how long Congress will be in session in December and whether there will be enough time to iron out differences on the bill with the House. Also, Republican opposition to including repeal in the defense bill is also not likely to ease up over the next few weeks.

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