Most support gays serving openly in military, says CBS News poll

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testifies on the attack on the US facilities in Benghazi, Libya, before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2013. CBS/AP

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

Just a few weeks after the implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a majority of Americans say they support gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, according to a new CBS News poll.

According to the poll, 68 percent of Americans said they support gay and lesbians' rights to serve openly. Fifty percent said they "strongly" favored the idea.

Moreover, although many national Republicans leaders were against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," more Republicans surveyed favor the idea of allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces openly than oppose it.

The poll shows that 48 percent of Republicans overall think gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly; 28 percent of those people said they favored the idea strongly.

Meanwhile, 41 percent of all Republicans opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly- twelve percent of whom opposed the idea strongly, and 29 percent of whom opposed it only somewhat.

The numbers reflect little change in public sentiment since Congress repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in December 2010. Then, 50 percent of Republicans supported allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, as did 69 percent of Americans overall, according to a CBS News poll.

Repeal of the 1993 law, which said gays could serve only if they kept their sexual orientations private, became official on September 20, 2011.

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Read the complete poll (PDF)


This poll was conducted by telephone from September 28-October 2, 2011 among 1,012 adults nationwide. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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