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 UdallColorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Energy issues roil race for Senate Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Boxer25 years after court gutted rule, EPA could finally ban asbestos Everything you need to know about the National Guard's bonus controversy Lawmakers praise bonus-clawback suspension, pledge permanent fix MORE (D-Calif.), Ron WydenRon WydenLawmakers question new DOJ hacking rule Overnight Healthcare: How GOP could help fix ObamaCare | Cures bill in jeopardy | Senators unveil Medicare reforms Senators unveil bipartisan Medicare reforms MORE (D-Ore.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyDemocrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Key GOP chairman calls for 'robust review' of AT&T-Time Warner deal Dem asks for 'highest level of scrutiny' on AT&T-Time Warner deal MORE (D-Vt.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinEverything you need to know about the National Guard's bonus controversy Lawmakers praise bonus-clawback suspension, pledge permanent fix Defense chief pledges to 'resolve' bonus clawback issue MORE (D-Calif.), and Al FrankenAl FrankenFCC privacy rules veer off course in eleventh hour White House contest casts shadow over mega-deal Obama takes aim at workers’ non-compete agreements 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 McCainYes, let’s set politics aside on sage grouse conservation Democrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Obama's right to tackle redistricting, but it won't be easy MORE (Ariz.), who said he would filibuster a defense bill that contains the provision. Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinThe Fed and a return to banking simplicity What Our presidential candidates can learn from Elmo Zumwalt Will there be a 50-50 Senate next year? 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.