WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Nearly half of more than 500 U.S. military personnel polled suspect at least one person in their unit is a homosexual.
According to a newly released poll, 23 percent of the poll respondents said they knew a person in their unit was gay; 59 percent of them said they knew because they were told by the person.
The U.S. military prohibits openly homosexual people from joining the military. Gays are allowed to serve but they may not discuss or act on their sexual orientation without risking expulsion from the military.
Of those who responded they know they have a gay colleague, two-thirds said it had no negative impact on their personal or unit morale to serve with gays. About one-quarter of those who know a member of their unit is gay said it did have a negative impact on morale.
Seventy-five percent said they would feel comfortable serving with gays and 78 percent said they would join the military even if there were a policy change allowing gays to serve openly in the military, the December poll conducted by Zogby International found.
However, just 26 percent of the 545 personnel polled believe the policy should be changed to allow gays to serve. Thirty-seven percent said the policy prohibiting open homosexuals from serving should remain in place. Another 32 percent counted themselves as neutral on the question.
The poll was conducted in October 2006. The respondents were 65 percent active duty, 16 percent veterans and 19 percent Guard and Reserve. All had recently served in Iraq or Afghanistan.