Washington, DC -
Senator Carl Levin will schedule a hearing on repeal of the military's ban on open gay service in January, Stars and Stripes reported.
Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Thursday that both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen will be called to testify at the hearing, but refused to provide additional details.
Last fall, both chambers of Congress postponed hearings on the issue. Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, said the Fort Hood shootings would take precedence.
The policy, also known as "don't ask, don't tell," is the 1993 law that prohibits gay and lesbian service members from revealing their sexuality at the risk of losing their jobs.
President Obama promised gay activists attending an October fundraiser that he would end the policy.
"I will end 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Obama said. "That is my commitment to you."
Legislation to repeal the law was introduced in the House last March by California Representative Ellen Tauscher, who has since been replaced by John Garamendi after she was tapped by President Obama to serve as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Since then, Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, has championed the bill. One-hundred-eighty-seven representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, according to a congressional website. An official bill has yet to be introduced in the Senate, but Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is widely expected to sponsor such a bill.
Prevailing thinking on the bill is that Democrats will not attempt to pass a freestanding bill but are more likely to tuck it into next year's military spending bill in the fall. That strategy has been used in the past to approve contentious measures, including last year's hate crimes bill.