Gates speeds up delivery of 'Don't ask, don't tell' report

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is instructing his staff to accelerate by one day the public release of a yearlong study into the implications of repealing the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.

That study, initially due Dec. 1, will now be ready for release Nov. 30 to allow the congressional defense committees to hold hearings on the report as soon as possible.

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Supporters of repealing the Clinton-era law, known as "Don't ask, don't tell," are eying the weeks after Thanksgiving recess as the last opportunity to see the ban scrapped. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has committed to bringing up the 2011 defense authorization bill, which contains a repeal provision, for a vote in December. The House already approved its version of the massive defense policy bill, which contains a repeal provision.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who leads the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he first wants to hold hearings on the Pentagon's yearlong study.

Gates now has compressed an already "aggressive" timeline for the report delivery in order "to support Congress's wish to consider repeal before they adjourn," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Sunday in a statement.

"Now, the Secretary has instructed his staff, without cutting any corners, to have everything ready a day sooner because he wants to ensure members of the Armed Services Committee are able to read and consider the complex, lengthy report before holding hearings with its authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Morrell said.

Reid and Levin still have to overcome some procedural hurdles to bring the defense bill for Senate debate. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) opposes the repeal provision and has threatened to filibuster the bill. Supporters of repeal need 60 votes to overcome any hurdles and have to clinch the support of a couple of Republicans and some Democrats who are still on the fence on the issue.