* Obama says ban could be repealed before year-end
* Legal confusion after court rulings
* Obama says lifting ban must be done in "orderly fashion"
By Ross Colvin
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said
Wednesday he still hoped to end the ban on gays serving
openly in the military, despite big electoral gains by
Republicans, many of whom oppose repealing the restrictions.
Many gay voters were disappointed with Obama's failure to
overturn the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy and
pulled back on financial support for Democrats in the campaign
for Tuesday's congressional elections, in which Republicans won
control of the House of Representatives.
Obama pledged at a White House news conference to deliver
on a promise he first made when running for president in 2008.
"It's time for us to move this policy forward," Obama said,
adding the rule could potentially be repealed in the short
session of Congress after the elections, when fellow Democrats
will still control both houses.
Since 1993, homosexuals have been allowed to serve in the
U.S. military as long as they hide their sexual orientation.
They are expelled if it becomes known. Polls have said most
Americans support lifting the ban.
The House has voted to change the law but unless the Senate
takes it up in the final weeks of the "lame-duck" legislative
session, it will effectively die.
Democrats retained control of the Senate in Tuesday's
elections, but Obama will still have to work with resurgent
Republicans who will be demanding a bigger voice in issues such
as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Obama is under pressure to act after a series of court
decisions created confusion for the Pentagon.
A federal appeals court Monday ordered the ban to remain
in place while the Obama administration challenges a
lower-court opinion declaring the policy unconstitutional.
Obama said he was awaiting a Pentagon review, due in
December, on the impact of lifting the ban on the military and
would study it carefully.
"I've said that making this change needs to be done in an
orderly fashion," he said, adding it was important not to do
anything that would be disruptive to "good order and
discipline" in the military.
But, he stressed, "we need to change this policy."
He said allowing gays to serve openly should not be a
"This is an issue, as I said, where you've got a sizable
portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that
folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated
fairly and equally," he said.
Many Republicans, including Senator John McCain, who lost
to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, have said they
oppose voting on a repeal of the policy before the Pentagon
review is done.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)
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