WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Nine U.S. senators are banding together to push for passage of a bill that will allow gays to serve openly in the military, The Hill reported Wednesday.
The Washington publication said the senators will be joined by representatives of several gay rights organizations for a news conference Thursday where they will once again call for repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that has been in effect since 1994. They want the measure, which has already passed the House and has President Obama's support, included in the defense appropriations bill.
The nine senators are Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., Mark Udall, D-Colo., Kirsten, Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Roland Burris, D-Ill., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Al Franken, D-Minn., The Hill said.
The groups to be represented at the news conference include the Human Rights Campaign, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Third Way.
A Pentagon report on the issue is due Dec. 1. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has said he would hold hearings once the report arrives.
Key Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have opposed repealing "don't ask, don't tell." McCain says the issue needs further study and congressional hearings.