Openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank has said he does not believe Democratic leaders will attempt to repeal the military's ban on open gay service this year.

“I believe we should and will do 'don't ask, don' tell' next year,” Frank told Roll Call. “We haven't done the preliminary work, the preparatory work. It would be a mistake to bring it up without a lot of lobbying and a lot of conversation.”

“Don't ask, don't tell” was implemented by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton. The law prescribes discharge as the remedy for gay service members who do not remain quiet about their sexuality or do not remain celibate.

President Barack Obama pledged his support for repeal of the law during the presidential campaign, but has since dialed back much of his enthusiasm.

“We don't even know the votes in committee, let alone the votes on the floor. … So I think the prediction it will not happen in calendar year 2009 is probably accurate,” openly lesbian Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin told the paper.

Both Democratic leaders co-chair the newly formed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus.

Gay advocates howled last month at comments made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that repeal would need to be pushed “down the road a little bit.”

“We've been pushing 'don't aks, don't tell' 'down the road a bit' for almost 16 years!,” said Aubrey Sarvis, president of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a gay advocacy group that lobbies for repeal of the ban, in an editorial at The Huffington Post.

The group is also preparing to kick start a major campaign to urge President Obama to eliminate funding the law in his new defense budget.

“The logical place and time for presidential leadership on this issue is next month, when President Obama sends his defense budget to Congress,” the group said in an e-mail. “President Obama should cut 'don't ask, don't tell' from his budget. It costs money to fire and replace discharged service members.

Frank called such a strategy politically unworkable. “People have to understand the political pressures,” Frank responded.

“People think because they know the rules, that somehow you gain some advantage from it. … But we all know the rules; the question is when to do it. The key issues are not procedural, it's political.”