Poll: Among Active-Duty Troops, Support For Gays In The Military Increases Sharply

In a survey among active-duty troops, a Military Times poll has found that the number of active-duty troops wo support having out gay people in the military has increased sharply:

An exclusive survey of some 3,000 active-duty troops shows such opposition has fallen sharply from nearly two-thirds (65 percent) in 2004 to about half (51 percent) today. The survey results appear Monday in Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.

Results of the survey were released after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress it is time to end the law banning open service by gays and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that derives from the law.

. . . And in a first since the Army Times Publishing Co. began polling readers in 2003, the survey includes data on the prevalence of homosexuality within the ranks — information the Defense Department is unable to collect under the legal requirements of DADT.

BTB breaks it down even further:

* 95% of participants identify as heterosexual. Around 2% identify as gay or bisexual and the rest ticked the “decline to answer” option.
* Attitude about allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military:

14% strongly favor
15% favor
19% neutral
15% oppose
36% strongly oppose
* Of those who oppose open service, 54% believe that sexual oriention is a choice while only 34% of those who favor open service have that belief.
* If the ban were overturned, about 38% believe that gay couples should receive the same benefits as straight couples and about 44% oppose the idea.
* The most challenging issues for the military should the policy be overturned are believe to be reducing harassment against openly gay personnel, and reducing violence and hate crimes against gay personnel.
* 56% know that there are gay people in their unit, 17% do not believe that there are and the rest aren’t certain.
* Of those who found out about a gay person in their unit, 2% reported them up the chain of command.

The linchpin in the argument by those opposing a DADT repeal is that it would negative impact “unit cohesion and morale,” but this poll shows that that troops themselves are growing more comfortable with the idea, a trend that is especially remarkable given that proponents of DADT have characterized the issue of gays in the military as a polarizing issue.

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