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Gays in military a hot button topic this election cycle

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's John McCain versus Lady Gaga on Tuesday as the Senate takes up the emotional issue of repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Senate Democrats have attached repeal of the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" law to a bill authorizing $726 billion in military spending next year. The fate of the move appears uncertain, but whichever way the votes go, repeal seems destined to become a major issue in this fall's midterm elections.

The law is already under siege. A federal judge in California recently ruled the ban on gays was unconstitutional, polls suggest a majority of Americans oppose it and Lady Gaga has challenged it in a YouTube video.

Repeal advocates say the law deprives the military of capable soldiers and violates civil rights.

But McCain of Arizona and other prominent Republicans are fighting to keep the law in place, at least until the Pentagon completes a survey later this year on repeal's likely effect on troops. GOP critics say lifting the ban at a time when troops are fighting two wars would undermine morale.

"I regret to see that the long-respected and revered Senate Armed Services Committee has evolved into a forum for a social agenda of the liberal left of the Senate," McCain said last week on the Senate floor.


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