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Published Jul. 9, 2010

The statement

Other Western countries have ended their 'don't ask, don't tell' policies."

Sen. Carl Levin, on Sunday's Meet the Press

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The ruling: TRUE

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he plans to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule, which prevents openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military.

But so far, no go.

Meet the Press host David Gregory asked Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate's Armed Services Committee, whether Obama would follow through on his promise.

"I think he, he will and he can," Levin said, adding, "Other militaries in the West, the British and other Western armies, have ended this discriminatory policy."

Some background: On the campaign trail, Obama wrote an open letter to the LGBT - lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender - community, stating that, as president, he would "bring about real change for all LGBT Americans." Chief among his efforts would be a repeal of the military's rule, put in place during the Clinton administration.

But Obama cannot simply undo "don't ask, don't tell," it must be repealed by Congress.

The issue was back in the news Oct. 11 when Obama spoke at a gathering of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. He told the group: "I'm working with the Pentagon, its leadership and the members of the House and Senate on ending this policy."

So was Levin correct when he said other countries have repealed laws banning gays from the military?

Australia ended its ban on homosexuals in the military in 1992, as did Canada. Britain's ban was lifted in 2000.

At least 25 Western countries have no ban on gays and lesbians in the military, according to the Palm Center, a public policy think tank associated with the University of California at Santa Barbara. As of June 2009, that list includes Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland and France.

So other Western countries, including the United Kingdom, have ended policies that prevent gays and lesbians from serving openly. We give Levin a True.

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