The largest group lobbying for repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has criticized Arizona Senator John McCain for dismissing a Pentagon report on the issue as flawed.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has previously suggested he would back repeal of the law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly if a majority of service members agreed.

Citing two unidentified sources familiar with an upcoming Pentagon report on repeal, the Washington Post on Thursday reported that more than 70 percent of respondents to a questionnaire sent to more than 40,000 active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of lifting the gay ban would be positive, mixed or nonexistent.

But speaking Sunday on Meet the Press, McCain told host David Gregory that he still opposes repeal because the study was flawed.

“I will stand that I want a thorough and complete study of the effect on morale and battle effectiveness on the United States military,” McCain said. “I will listen, as I've said for years, to our military leaders and not a, not a study that is leaked – as we know this town's pretty good at that.”

“We have people like the commandant of the Marine Corps, the three other – all four service chiefs are saying we need a through and complete study of the effects – not how to implement a repeal, but the effects on morale and battle effectiveness. That's what I want.”

“And once we get this study, we need to have hearings, and we need to examine it, and we need to look at whether it's the kind of study that we wanted. It isn't in my view, because I wanted a study to determine the effects of the repeal on battle effectiveness and morale.”

McCain has already pledged to filibuster any attempt in the Senate to repeal the Clinton-era law. Aides for the senator say he's working to strip the repeal amendment from the defense bill.

“Sen. McCain is clearly out of touch, not only with the American people, but also the Pentagon and our troops,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund (SLDN), said in a statement.

“McCain seems to be saying he wants a do-over because he doesn't like the findings and recommendations in the Pentagon report going to Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates. In other words, McCain is telling the Pentagon: Keep working until you produce the outcome I'm looking for.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, also criticized McCain for his “irrational opposition to open service.”

“No matter the evidence, McCain will use whatever tactics at his disposal to not only stop repeal from moving forward, but will hold hostage the most critical military defense bill to do so,” Joe Solmonese, president of the group, said in a statement.

The senator also addressed his wife's apparent flip-flop on the issue, saying he respects “the First Amendment rights of every member of my family.”