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“Homosexual activists are overconfident because they have not yet seen a counterforce emerge as occurred in 1993,” said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center, an organization that seeks to balance perceived liberal bias in mainstream news coverage.

“But as the threat grows stronger, we will see groups forming and the resistance building,” he said. “Americans go about their business and are not activists until they have a Pearl Harbor moment. That has yet to happen, but it will.”

He added that most Americans “are unaware that gay activists have the military in their gun sights.”

Mr. Obama’s gay-ban pledge was not a major campaign issue. However, he provided a policy statement to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay rights group, pledging to repeal the exclusion and to invite back service members discharged under the law. He also said that he wants the Pentagon to school military people on how to treat gays.

“The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute,” he told the group, in a statement posted on their Web site. “It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination. The military must be our active partners in developing those policies and protocols.”

The law states that open homosexuality in the ranks would be detrimental to combat unit readiness.

“The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability,” the law says.

Ban proponents say removing the restriction would hurt recruiting by discouraging conservative, religiously oriented youths from signing up.

“It’s true that many in the military have looked the other way and served alongside people they know are into homosexuality,” Mr. Knight said. “But that is with the ban in place. Open acceptance would change the atmosphere entirely. If fraternization is a problem now between men and women, imagine the conflicts with openly gay officers who no longer have to be reticent.”

Mr. Sarvis said not to look for the debate to begin until late next year or 2010.

“What’s the reality for the new administration?” he said. “Financial crisis. Economic upheaval. Health care reform. Environmental challenges. Where does ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ fall in all this? I would say it is not in the top five priorities of national issues.”