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Lieberman says 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal not dead

By Charley Keyes, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Senators against the ban are encouraged by Reid's comments
  • Some lawmakers want to see the Pentagon review first
  • Lieberman had asked that the Pentagon release the report early

Washington (CNN) -- Senators pushing for a repeal of the ban on openly gay troops serving in the military say they are encouraged by the progress toward a vote.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said Thursday he's encouraged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's stated commitment to have a vote before the end of the current session of Senate this year.

"Paraphrasing Mark Twain, we're here to make clear that the reports of the death of the movement to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' have been greatly exaggerated," Lieberman said at a news conference, standing with a group of fellow senators who also oppose the law. "The reality is the movement to end the injustice of 'don't ask, don't tell' is alive and well and we're going to keep fighting in the spirit of the American military until we get the job done."

The move to vote has been mired in process and politics. Senators on the fence do not want to hold a debate and vote until they have seen a Pentagon review of how the military would handle a repeal of the ban. That review is due to be given to Defense Secretary Robert Gates December 1. After that, the Senate Armed Services Committee intends to hold a hearing on the report before it will be considered for a vote.

Biden on 'don't ask, don't tell'

That leaves little time before the end of the lame duck session for debate and voting on the contentious repeal, as well as the larger defense spending authorization bill in which the repeal is likely to be included.

Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sent a letter to Gates earlier this week requesting he send the analysis to Congress sooner to allow more time for consideration of the report ahead of a vote.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday the Pentagon has no intention of releasing the report early.