Michigan Senator Carl Levin said Tuesday he backs a Pentagon survey on “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” but then added several caveats, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin's support on repeal of the law that forbids gay troops from serving openly is seen as critical. He has personally championed repeal.

The 103-question, $4.5 million survey has been decried by gay activists as “homophobic,” an accusation the Department of Defense has denied.

“This expensive survey stokes the fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the Pentagon responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this inevitable policy change even harder,” Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said on the group's website.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the nation's largest group lobbying for repeal, warned Friday that gay and lesbian personnel could be placing themselves at risk of violating the policy by taking the survey.

Department of Defense Spokesman Geoff Morrell said he rejected the accusations of bias “as nonsense.”

“We think it would be irresponsible to conduct a survey that didn't address these kinds of [social] questions,” Morrell said, referring to questions that ask how members would react in various social situation if gay troops were visible.

At a breakfast sponsored by the Monitor, Levin said the survey was a “very good idea,” but then added, “providing it is clearly understood that it is just a question to help guide decision makers.”

Levin also cautioned against dependence on surveys, saying “it is surely overdone with politicians.” And warned that the survey could give troops the impression that the military is a democracy.

Repeal of the gay ban cleared the House last month, but is expected to face a steep incline when senators take up the issue later this summer. Republican lawmakers in the chamber have threatened to filibuster the measure. While President Obama backs repeal of the 1993 law, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the president might veto the military defense bill that envelopes the measure if it includes several expenditures opposed by the administration.

Levin argued that the survey's results should not be released to the public.