A new poll has found that 79% of all Americans believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, which was conducted December 5-7, surveyed 1,004 adults. Survey participants were asked "Do you think people who are openly gay or homosexual should--or should not--be allowed to serve in the U.S. military?" Among those in the 18-29 age range, 91% said gays should be allowed to serve openly. The percentage of "yes" respondents for those ages 30-49, 50-64, and 65 and over were 81%, 74%, and, 68%, respectively. Seventy-three percent of men and 85% of women were in support. An August Fox News poll found that 64% of the public believed that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Previously, a 2001 survey published by MI Press found that 56% of civilian respondents believed that gays should be allowed to serve openly.
According to Geoffrey Bateman, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the shift in public opinion may reflect ongoing concern about the firing of nine gay Arabic language specialists during the war on terror. "After 10 years of 'don't ask, don't tell,' the public understands that discrimination undermines military effectiveness," Bateman said. CSSMM senior research fellow Nathaniel Frank broke the story of the Arabic linguists in a November 2002 New Republic story, but the issue resurfaced recently when The Washington Post reported on December 3 that the military has fired 37 linguists for being gay over the past two years.