Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reiterated on Saturday his support for Congress to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” during its upcoming lame-duck session, American Forces Press Service reported.

Gates made his comments while speaking to reporters en route to Australia-U.S. defense and diplomatic meetings in Melbourne.

“I would like to see the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are,” Gates said.

Opponents of the policy that bans gay and bisexual service members from serving openly and which has ended the military careers of more than 13,000 service members in its 17-year history are lobbying Congress to take a second look at repeal before new members take their seats in January.

President Barack Obama said he sees an opportunity to repeal the ban after the Pentagon delivers its study on repeal, which includes a survey of how troops and their families feel about the issue. The study is due on the president's desk on December 1. “That will give us time to act, potentially, during the lame-duck session to change this policy,” he said Wednesday during his post-election news conference.

Opponents of lifting the ban chided the president for pressing ahead with repeal after Tuesday's election results.

“When it comes to the homosexual agenda, the American people could not be clearer,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), the Christian-based group that opposes repeal, said.

Republicans will take over control of the House in January, and increase their numbers in the Senate, making repeal much more difficult. Arizona Senator John McCain has already pledged to filibuster any attempt at repealing the Clinton-era policy.