As lawmakers meet this week in Washington to discuss the issue of gays openly serving in the U.S. military, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that nearly 70 percent of Americans surveyed now are OK with the idea, including 62 percent of those who declare themselves Republican, and 63 percent who claim to be independents.
Democrats led the poll, with more than 80 percent saying they accept gays within the ranks of the armed forces, while only 27 percent of those responding to the survey oppose repealing the don’t ask, don’t tell law that has been in effect since 1993. Two percent said they had no opinion.
"That's a dramatic turnaround from the early 1990s,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said of the poll results. "In 1994, only a bare 53 percent majority felt that gays and lesbians should be allowed to openly serve in the military."
Keating said the dramatic shift in views on gays in the military “dovetails with overall changes in public attitudes toward gays and toward homosexual behavior.”
Similar surveys have been conducted since the 1970s, but the new CNN poll indicates for the first time that half of all Americans (50 percent) now believe being in a gay or lesbian relationship is not a moral issue, up from 48 percent in 1998. In 1994, 41 percent believed homosexual behavior to be immoral.
Those opposed to repealing don’t ask, don’t tell, however, say changing the current law would present an array of problems within the military ranks, including “serious negative impact on recruiting, retention, unit cohesion, and readiness.”
At a news conference in Washington, D.C., last Thursday, Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, argued against repeal of the current military eligibility law, saying activists and allies in the media are wrong in suggesting that repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell won’t cause complications in military life.
“Repeal of the law would represent complicated problems that will be loaded on the backs of countless mid-level officers and NCOs,” Donnelly said. “They should not have to pay the bill for political promises that President Barack Obama made to the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual] left.”
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