The number of service members dismissed from the military for being gay in 2009 was the lowest in a decade, the AP reported.

In 2009, 428 troops were dismissed for being gay compared with 619 in 2008, according to figures released by the Pentagon on Monday. The highest number of dismissals occurred in 1997, when 997 service members were fired.

“It's very good news that discharges continue to drop during a time of two wars, particularly in 2009,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), said in a statement.

SLDN lobbies for repeal of the 1993 law that bans gay and lesbian service members from revealing their sexuality at the risk of losing their jobs. The policy is commonly known as “don't ask, don't tell.”

“But it is 428 too many,” Sarvis added. “We need to see the number go to zero and will continue to urge Congress and the White House to pass full repeal in 2010 through the defense authorization bill to end this law once and for all.”

Lawmakers are expected to take up the issue of repeal after President Obama called for an end to the law during his first State of the Union address last week.

On Tuesday, a key Senate panel considering repeal legislation is expected to hear testimony from top Pentagon officials on the policy.

A recent UCLA study found 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people are currently serving in the Armed Forces, approximately 2.2% of all military personnel, and the military has spent up to $500 million implementing the gay ban.