WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s top leaders will be among those testifying at a Senate hearing on the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law later this month, the first in that chamber in 17 years.

On Thursday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen will speak about the ramifications of repealing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military.

Levin said a date hasn’t been set yet, but the hearings will take place in late January.

Repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law was a campaign pledge of President Barack Obama. Lawmakers have been working to build support for legislation to repeal the 1993 law.

Both House and Senate leaders promised hearings on the issue last year, but other military and domestic priorities pushed those sessions into 2010. Congressional leaders have said they’re looking at attaching a repeal to the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill, which will be debated this spring.

Levin did not release any other details on the format of the hearings or identify others who will be invited to testify. House members held a hearing on “don’t ask, don’t tell” in July 2008, but that event did not include any official position from the armed services.

House officials said no decisions have been made yet on the timing of their hearing.

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