US president Barack Obama will treat repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a priority this year, it has been reported.

According to the New York Times, the White House has been holding meetings on the issue for the past year with defence secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Obama mentioned the law in his State of the Union address last week, having promised in his 2008 election campaign he would repeal it.

He reportedly knew his administration could be forced to defend the 1993 law if court cases challenging it reached the Supreme Court.

Last week, Gates’ spokesman revealed that he would be presenting to lawmakers plans on how to repeal the law.

Tomorrow will be the first Congressional hearing on the issue for 17 years and Gates and Mullen are expected to unveil plans for how repeal will be implemented.

Repeal will require an act of Congress, although gay rights campaigners hope that Gates will introduce a ban on sacking personnel who have been outed by someone else in the meantime.

Around 13,000 servicemembers are thought to have been sacked under the law since it was introduced.

It allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they do not reveal their sexual orientation.