Advocates for gay and lesbian service members are hopeful the Senate will approve a conditional repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" before the end of the year, which is widely viewed as the last, best chance for the foreseeable future.
The House approved a defense spending bill that included a repeal provision in September. But several high-profile Senate Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, have vowed to block any attempt at lifting the military gay ban.
Meanwhile, the policy faces several ongoing constitutional challenges in federal court. In October, a district court judge in California ruled "don't ask, don't tell" unconstitutional and barred its enforcement. An appeals court later reinstated the military's gay ban while the case is pending.
"You hear President Obama say we want to pass this policy so that people who want to serve can serve," Smith said. "But people forget there's a bunch of us serving right now."