WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to hear from the Obama administration on how to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military.
The Democratic-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law but isn't expected to act on the issue until early next year.
In the meantime, the Nevada Democrat is asking President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to share their views and recommendations on the controversial policy.
In Sept. 24 letters to Obama and Gates, Reid also asked for a review of the cases of two U.S. officers who were discharged from the military because of their sexuality.
"At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country," Reid wrote in identical letters to Obama and Gates that were obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
Obama signaled during last year's election campaign that he supported repealing the law. But to the chagrin of his gay-rights supporters, he has made no move to do so since taking office in January. The White House has said it will not stop the military from dismissing gays and lesbians who acknowledge their sexuality.
Last year, 634 members of the military were discharged for being gay, or .045 percent of the active-duty U.S. force, according to an Aug. 14 congressional report.
The largest number of gays who were ousted under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy came in 2001, when 1,227 were discharged, or .089 of the force.
The House is considering legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow people who have been discharged under the policy to rejoin the military. The law is being pushed chiefly by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., a former captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division who served in Bosnia and Iraq.
Murphy has said he does not expect congressional hearings on the policy until next year.