WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing on the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians, according to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat.
The Senate Armed Services committee will hold the hearing in the fall, she said in a written announcement.
A committee spokeswoman confirmed that there will hearings, but that no specific legislation is under consideration.
"Don't ask, don't tell" is the policy that prevents openly gay troops from serving in the U.S. military.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton instituted it in 1993 as a way of loosening restrictions on gay men and lesbians serving in the armed forces - the policy ended the requirement that servicemen and women state their sexual orientation. But its opponents say it does not go far enough.
"'Don't ask, don't tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women," Gillibrand said in her statement. "By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength - both militarily and morally."
Nearly 13,000 service members have been discharged for their sexual orientation since 1993, she said.
President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to repeal the law, but gay rights groups have been angered that the president has not done more to hasten the change.
Since Obama took office, 265 service members have been discharged for being gay, according to Gillibrand.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said earlier this month that it is clear the president wants the law changed and he is beginning to work with his staff on how a repeal would be implemented.
But he warned that the decision is not be hurried with two wars ongoing.
"When I talk about looking at this in the future, we have a force that's under extraordinary stress, and it's a force that, you know, should this occur, I think we need to implement in a way that that recognizes the challenges and the stress that we're under right now," said Mullen, the country's highest-ranking military officer.
"But, if it does occur, when it does occur, you know, I'll certainly lead it and carry it out."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said he is looking for ways to make the policy "more humane," including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover.
But there is plenty of opposition to the repeal. In the spring, more than 1,000 retired officers signed a letter organized by the group Flag and General Officers for the Military urging Obama to uphold the existing law.
"We believe that imposing this burden on our men and women in uniform would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the all-volunteer force," the letter said.
–CNN's Adam S. Levine contributed to this report.