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A lukewarm endorsement from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and opposition among some lawmakers cast doubt Tuesday on whether Congress this week would lift a 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Gay rights’ groups predicted that the bill might pass the House but face a tough road in the Senate.

“The door isn’t closed, but it’s barely cracked,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director.

A compromise was struck on Monday by the White House and a small group of Democrats who fear that repeal efforts will be doomed if Republicans regain control of one or both houses of Congress after fall elections.

The plan would overturn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law but still allow the military to decide when and how to implement any changes to accommodate the new policy.
Gates has said that he supports repeal but would prefer that Congress wait to vote until he can talk to the troops and chart a path forward. A study ordered by Gates is due on Dec. 1.

Some lawmakers took a similar stand. “I see no reason for the political process to pre-empt it,” Sen. Jim Webb, a conservative Democrat from Virginia, said of the military study.

On Tuesday, Gates said he would support the White House compromise but wished it didn’t have to happen now.

President Barack Obama has vowed to help repeal the 1993 law, which prohibits the military from asking service members whether they are gay, bans homosexual activity and requires that gay troops not discuss their sexual orientation.

Source: Anne Flaherty for Yahoo! News AP.

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A lukewarm endorsement from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and opposition among some lawmakers cast doubt…