Thu, 21 December 2006
Wonder how long it will take President Bush to say this survey was conducted with discredited methods? (From PlanetOut.com)
Poll: U.S. troops fine with gay soldiers
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 / 10:49 AM
SUMMARY: Seventy-three percent of U.S. service members aren't bothered by lesbians and gay men in their ranks, says a new Zogby International poll.
A recent poll from Zogby International and the Michael D Palm Center shows that US military personnel are increasingly at ease serving with openly gay colleagues.
The poll reveals that 73 percent of military members aren't bothered by lesbians and gays. Nearly one in four (23 percent) service members report knowing for sure that someone in their unit is lesbian or gay, including 21 percent of those in combat units.
"Today's poll is one more nail in the coffin of 'don't ask, don't tell,'" said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
"Those who defend the law have argued that openly gay personnel harm military readiness. This research highlights the absurdity of such a hypothesis. Not only are there more than 65,000 lesbians and gays serving in the armed forces, but many are serving openly.
"Their straight colleagues are just fine with that. 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."
The survey of 545 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan also discovered that, even among those who did not know for certain if a gay colleague was in their unit, nearly half (45 percent) suspected as much.
Among those who did know a gay colleague, few said their presence undermined morale. In 1993, only 13 percent of enlisted personnel supported open service.
The Zogby poll is the latest in a series of polls and public statements indicating readiness for a chance in policy. A 2004 Annenberg poll found that a majority of junior enlisted personnel favor allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly, up from 13 percent in other polls from 1993.
Among the general public, Gallup has found 79 percent support for repealing the gay ban. A recent Boston Globe poll found that a majority of conservatives and regular churchgoers favor repeal, too.
Senior military leaders are increasingly speaking up in favor of reviewing the ban on open service as well. Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the first woman to achieve three-star rank in the Army, recently called "don't ask, don't tell" a "hollow policy that serves no useful purpose."
Lt. Gen. Daniel W. Christman, former superintendent of West Point, told The New York Times that "It is clear that national attitudes toward this issue have evolved considerably in the last decade. This has been led by a new generation of service members who take a more relaxed and tolerant view toward homosexuality."
"There has been a seismic shift among the military and the public in favor of welcoming gay patriots in our armed forces," said Osburn. "Congress should follow the example of those who serve on the frontlines every day and repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' once and for all."
U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) will reintroduce The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow gays to serve openly, when Congress reconvenes in 2007. During the 109th Congress, a bipartisan coalition of 123 lawmakers supported the bill. (Stewart Who?, Gay.com U.K.)
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