Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and John Ensign are hinting that they might support repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” when it comes up for a vote after the Thanksgiving break.

Ensign signaled his willingness to support repeal of the 17-year-old law that prescribes discharge for gay and bisexual service members who do not remain celibate or closeted in a letter to constituents, the Washington Post reported.

“It is my firm belief that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to fight and risk their lives in defense of this great nation,” the 52-year-old Nevada senator wrote. “As a nation currently engaged in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the focus of all decisions affecting military readiness, recruiting and retention, and unit cohesion should be to maximize the success of ongoing operations.”

Ensign added, however, that he's still on the fence and wants to read a Pentagon report on repeal due December 1 before committing either way. Details of the report leaked to the press show 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 nonexiste.

Alaska Senator Murkowski noted the report in talking about the issue on Thursday.

“I have said that I would work to make sure that as long as it is supported by the troops, as long as it doesn't hurt the performance or the morale, or the recruitment – these are all things we have to take into consideration – I think we will see that play out in this report,” she told Alaska-based CBS affiliate KTVA. “If in fact 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is included in the Defense Authorization Act and we get to the point where we can move that bill through – I would not oppose the Defense Authorization Act because the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal of it is included in it.”

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the bill's sponsor in the Senate, predicted that repeal would pass with more than the needed 60 votes, and added that Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana backed the effort.