General David Patraeus, the commander of the U.S. military forces in the Middle East and South Asia, has said he supports the Pentagon's internal review looking into the effects of repealing “don't ask, don't tell,” the 1993 law that bans gay troops from serving openly.

“The time has come” for the military to reconsider the policy, Patraeus testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

The four-star Army general is the latest military official to announce support for reconsideration of the policy that prescribes discharge as the remedy for gay and lesbian service members who do not remain celibate or closeted.

Earlier in the month, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a Senate bill that would repeal the law. Lieberman, an Independent, has become an outspoken ally of repeal in the Senate. His bill enjoys the support of Michigan Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where the bill will most likely be heard. The committee's ranking Republican is Arizona Senator John McCain, who has become the Republican face of opposition to repeal in the Senate.

A House version of the bill was introduced last year and has attracted 189 cosponsors. Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, took over sponsorship of the measure after California Representative Ellen Tauscher accepted an appointment in the Obama administration.

The Pentagon's top brass, including Defense Secretary Roberts Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have publicly announced they support President Obama's pledge to end the policy, but service chiefs from the various armed forces have testified against repeal or have expressed trepidation.