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A new poll shows that support for allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military is up from 10 years ago. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People found that 58% of Americans think openly gay people should be allowed to serve, up from 52% in 1994. The poll, released on August 30, also found the percentage of those who strongly opposed gays and lesbians serving openly fell from 26% in 1994 to 15% in 2005. The poll was reported in The New York Times.
According to the study, "Solid majorities of seculars (72%), white Catholics (72%), and mainline Protestants (63%) believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the nation's military."
The poll follows other recent surveys showing growing support for allowing gays to serve openly. A March 2005 Boston Globe poll revealed that 79% of Americans support allowing open service. Recent Gallup polls have reported between 65% and 79% support for lifting the military's ban on out gay personnel. The Annenberg Survey reported in October that half of junior enlisted personnel and their families support allowing gays to serve. And in 2003, Fox News reported 64% support for allowing gays to serve.
"The public recognizes that discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members cannot be more important than protecting national security," said Kathi S. Westcott, senior counsel for law and policy for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "Support for allowing gays to serve openly continues to grow among all Americans, regardless of political ideology. Congress should heed the views of their constituents and repeal 'don't ask, don't tell.'"