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Polls Indicate Support for Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Several polls released released this week indicate wide public support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 75 percent of respondents support letting lesbians and gays serve openly in the military. A similar poll conducted in 1993 found that only 44 percent were supportive of lesbian and gay individuals serving openly, according to the Washington Post. The current poll found high support among all political parties: 82 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Independents, and 64 percent of Republicans said they were in favor of open service regardless of sexual orientation. A New York Times/CBS News poll found that 7 of 10 respondents indicated they favor allowing “gay men and lesbians” in the military, but only 6 in 10 indicated they should be able to serve openly. However, a second set of respondents whose questions used “homosexuals” in place of the phrase “gay men and lesbians” exhibited much lower support. Of the second group of respondents, 59 percent were in favor of allowing lesbian and gay individuals to serve and only 44 percent were in favor of allowing them to openly serve, reported the New York Times. Top US military leaders announced a year-long review of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” early this month during a Senate armed services committee hearing. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also ordered a 45 day review period. During this period, the issue of discharges resulting from third parties outing military personnel will be considered, reported the Christian Science Monitor. President Obama announced a promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during his State of the Union Address last month. He said, “this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.” The policy was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, but also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops. The New York Times/CBS News poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0 points for each half sample and interviewed 1,084 adults over the telephone between February 5th and 10th. The Washington Post/ABC News had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 points and interviewed 1,004 adults over the telephone between February 4th and 8th.

Sources:

Washington Post 2/12/10; New York Times 2/11/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/3/09, 2/3/10; Christian Science Monitor 2/2/10

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