Dem: Congress to hold hearing on 'Don't ask, don't tell' this fall

Congress is set to hold hearings as early as this month on the controversial "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy barring openly gay people from serving in the military, according to a centrist Democratic congresswoman.

Should they take place, the hearings would be the first on the provision opposed by many Democratic lawmakers as unjust and antiquated.

"I think we'll have one this fall. And I'm looking forward to trying to have one for the Armed Services Committee probably in October or November," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has long opposed the provision, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.

Gillibrand — a former congresswoman who was appointed to fill the Senate seat of now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — predicted Congress could marshal enough support to successfully press the White House to drop the measure.

"I think the White House will support this. I think the president supports it," she said. "He certainly has so stated over the last several months and years. It's something that is time. I mean, it's a timely issue that is urgent and it's a call to action."

The senator cited the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the urgency of the repeal, citing the loss of 10 percent of the military's Arabic and Farsi speakers due to the policy.

"When we have so much pressure on our military, we want all of the best and brightest to be able to be serving."

President Barack Obama has recently faced mounting pressure from the left for not yet repealing DADT, which during the campaign he had promised to do. Liberals have accused him and the Defense Department of dragging their feet on the issue.

"I do believe ... that we will have the support in Congress that we need. And I think there's more support than you think. I think there's a number of senators that are considering their views on this issue. And I think the benefit of a hearing is we will get this evidence out to be debated fully," Gillibrand added.

The freshman senator does not serve on the Armed Services Committee, but has directly appealed to Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to hold the hearings.

Gillibrand predicted that Republicans would strongly speak out against the repeal during the hearings, but that it would not be enough to sway Congress's message in the opposite direction.

"We want these very talented and well-trained individuals to be serving, and so most people want to see a repeal of this policy. It's undermining the strength of our military. It's immoral. It's something that doesn't reflect who we are as Americans. And it's unjust."

Members of the Republican leadership have called on military officials to speak out on the policy before arriving at a decision.

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