Support Grows to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives at the 13th Annual National Dinner of the Human Right Campaign. Mr. Obama's comments could spark criticism from conservatives and some supporters who say the administration must set different priorities.

WASHINGTON -- Congress could be receptive to President Barack Obama's pledge to end a 16-year-old policy banning gay people from serving openly in the military, a top Democratic lawmaker said. The Pentagon also signaled openness to a change.

Speaking at a human-rights dinner in Washington Saturday, Mr. Obama pledged to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they don't disclose their sexual orientation or act on it. The president, who made a similar pledge during the campaign, didn't provide a timetable for reversing the policy.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.) said it was now possible "to get a buy-in from the military" to end a policy opposed by gays and many liberals since it was passed by Congress in 1993. But Mr. Levin, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, cautioned that the effort had to be handled "with thoughtfulness and with care."

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