Results of an Internet poll released Tuesday show most serving in the military approve of working with openly gay service members.
The Washington, D.C., and New York City-based Zogby International Poll revealed 73 percent of military members are comfortable with gays.
Of the 545 polled online, nearly one-fourth said they knew of at least one person in their unit who is gay or lesbian, with 21 percent of those being in combat units. The troops polled had all served in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report. Although the majority polled approved of gays in the military, active-duty personnel and officers with 15 years or more of service were least likely to support them.
A news release from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said the poll is “one more nail in the coffin of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy” passed by President Bill Clinton more than 10 years ago. The policy allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military, but they must not divulge their sexual orientation nor engage in homosexual acts. Additionally, their commanders cannot ask if they are homosexual. The SLDN claims more than 65,000 lesbians and gays serve in the military.
“At a time when our fighting forces are stretched thin and leaders are calling for the recruitment of more troops, it is time for Congress to do away with this archaic law,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN.
The pro-gay and lesbian Washington, D.C.-based organization contends some senior military leaders are looking at the policy more closely to see if they should let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military.
Those officials include Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, U.S. Army (retired), the first female three star general, and Lt. Gen. Daniel W. Christman, former superintendent of West Point.
Chantal Escoto covers military affairs and can be reached by telephone at 245-0216 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.