Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy during Wednesday night's State of the Union address, according to a top congressional leader.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said he had no specifics, but said the president would bring up the issue during the speech. He made his comments after a news conference on Afghanistan Monday.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. armed forces. The policy bans military recruiters or authorities from asking about an individual's sexual orientation, but also prohibits a service member from revealing that he or she is gay.
Obama has said he would end the policy.
Levin, who also supports ending the policy, said the committee plans to hold hearings on the issue in late January or early February.
"We've got to try to get the military leaders to speak up on this issue," Levin said. "I think there's a generational shift taking place … (but) we've also got to show sensitivity to the military."
Public opinion appears to be softening on the matter. A Gallup poll conducted in June of 2009 found that 69 percent of adult respondents favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the U.S. military, up six percentage points from November, 2004.
Opponents of changing the policy argue that allowing gays to serve openly would cause a breakdown of unit cohesion and morale.