By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- Gay rights groups anxious to see Congress move quickly toward repealing the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military are training some of their lobbying energy on Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown today.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is planning to vote on a provision lifting the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy when it takes up the fiscal year 2011 defense spending bill next week.
The adoption of such a provision would be a key step in advancing the legislative goal first set out by President Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and which many advocates say has languished.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will also bring the issue to a floor vote in the House next week.
While many close observers believe the Democrats have enough votes to prevail, advocates for lifting the ban aren't taking any chances.
Some are looking to more moderate-leaning GOPers like Brown, a member of the Senate panel, for additional support.
For example, some activists scheduled a protest earlier this afternoon outside Brown's Boston office to urge him to lend his support.
But Jesse Ehrenfeld, a board member of the Log Cabin Republicans of Massachusetts, a gay rights organization, said he believes protest is not the right approach with Brown because he has not yet taken a public position on the issue.
"We feel that protesting against him for positions he does not hold are not productive and will only hamstring efforts by leaders in the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] movement at gaining his critical support," Ehrenfeld said in an email.
In a subsequent telephone interview with Political Intelligence, Ehrenfeld expressed confidence that Brown will vote to overturn the ban, citing several meetings he has held with the freshman senator and his staff.
Ehrenfeld said the senator, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, made a point to sit in on the sessions and engage in the discussion.
Ehrefeld said Brown described himself as "neutral "on the issue, but "I think he is moving in the right direction."
Brown's office declined to comment today on which way he is leaning on the pending committee vote.
"Will get back to you next week," emailed his spokesman, Colin Reed.
As Congress takes up the 1993 law, the Pentagon is urging lawmakers to wait until it has completed a review to determine what changes might be needed if gays are permitted to serve openly.
The review is slated to be completed by Dec. 1.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.