A large majority of U.S. voters believe that homosexual men and women should be allowed to serve openly in the US military, according to a poll out Wednesday.
The independent Quinnipiac University poll asked Americans about their views on the law that requires gay service members to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion from the military, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
The survey was conducted after President Barack Obama last month renewed his vow to change the law and allow gays to serve openly in uniform.
The poll found that 57 percent of US voters believe that gays should serve openly, an idea opposed by 36 percent.
Americans also believe by a 66 to 31 percent margin that it is discriminatory to prevent openly gay men and women to serve.
However, by a 54 to 38 percent margin, those surveyed also believe that gays serving in the military should limit displaying their sexual orientation on the job.
US military households -- homes with an active or reserve member, or a veteran in their family -- were evenly divided over the issue.
Obama's bid to lift the ban on gays serving in the military received a boost on February 2 when Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered an ardent endorsement, saying allowing gays to serve openly was "the right thing to do."
The poll reflected other surveys that have shown support for lifting the ban steadily rising among Americans since the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule was adopted in 1993.
Those surveys also tend to show stronger support for ending the policy among younger Americans.
The poll came after a Democratic lawmaker on a key committee said she hoped to push for a measure in a few months that would place a moratorium on further dismissals of gay service members who are outed by their comrades under the current law.
Representative Susan Davis, head of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, told a San Diego radio station on Monday that there was likely more support in Congress for such a moratorium than a complete repeal of the ban.
"I suspect it would be easier to get this kind of limited moratorium through with more support," Davis said.
The Pentagon has announced plans to carry out a year-long review of the issue to look at the possible impact of ending the ban.
In his testimony this month before lawmakers, Admiral Mullen said there was scarce information or surveys that showed how members of the armed forces viewed the issue.
"There?s very little objective data on this," he said.
The Military Times newspaper this week released a survey of readers who are active-duty service members that showed opposition to repealing the ban declining.
The percentage of those who said they opposed ending the ban dropped to 51 percent, a decline of 12 points since 2003, the newspaper said.
The survey, conducted in November, also suggested junior enlisted service members tended to be more supportive of lifting the ban.
More than twice as many military women as men -- 55 percent to 27 percent -- support allowing gays to serve openly, according to the survey.
Advocacy groups backing a change to the law have questioned the methodology of previous polls by the Military Times. They say the surveys do not qualify as scientific, random samples of troops and could be biased towards older, higher-ranking service members.
The newspaper said it based the results on emails to readers and fliers placed in newsstand copies.
The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 2,617 registered voters nationwide between February 2 and 8. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 points.
© AFP 2013