An estimated 66,000 gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members are currently serving in the U.S. military, according to a new study released Tuesday.
Approximately 13,000 LGB people are on active duty, with another 53,000 in guard or reserve units, reports the Williams Institute, a national think tank on LGBT topics. Together, the 66,000 military members make up 2.2% of all military personnel.
“Despite official policy requiring that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals remain silent about their sexual orientation, data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that an estimated 66,000 LGB men and women are serving in the U.S. military,” said Gary Gates, the author of the study.
The study also shows that the military's ban on openly gay service members, which requires discharging those who are found to be gay, costs the Department of Defense up to $43,000 per person being discharged. Since its inception in 1994, the policy has cost the military between $290 million and possibly more than $500 million.
While women make up only 14% of active duty personnel, they also represent more than 43% of LGB people serving on active duty, according to the study.
The figures are an update to numbers reported in 2004, also by the Williams Institute. The study also updates 2006 figures from The Palm Center, which focuses on LGBT-related military issues.