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Activists poised for repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' law

The group delivered petitions with tens of thousands of signatures to wavering senators Friday to show that they are safe politically if they vote to overturn the ban, the DNC said. It is also staging events in the home states of Collins, Brown, Murkowski and Snowe and making campaign-style robo-calls in the home states of other Republican senators who might also support the ban.

But conservative activists are also trying to sway wavering Republicans.

"There is no reason to rush passage of radical, irreversible legislation, particularly when commitments were made to do so only after full debate" of the Pentagon's recent report on how to end the ban, said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group opposed to ending the law.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) also repeated his opposition.

"The policy is a major change," he said. "There's all kinds of evidence that some people can accommodate change; other people feel like they can't accommodate the change."

Graham's close friend, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) - the most vocal Republican critic of ending the ban - did not comment Friday.

In a CNN interview Thursday, McCain said his son, Jimmy, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq, is also opposed to ending the ban. "His words to me, as so many thousands of others' words have been to me, 'It isn't broke, don't fix it,' " McCain said.

The year-long campaign to end "don't ask, don't tell" almost derailed passage of the annual defense bill that authorizes most Pentagon policy. A new version passed by the House on Friday and poised to pass the Senate stripped out controversial provisions that would have ended the gay ban, permitted abortions at military bases and allowed the transfer of terrorism detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States.

Staff writer Philip Rucker contributed to this report.

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