Poll shows growing acceptance of Gays in the Millitary
By Kyle Dropp and Jon Cohen
Public attitudes about gays in the military have shifted dramatically since President Bill Clinton unveiled what became his administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy 15 years ago today. Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.
Today, Americans have become more supportive of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.
Fifty-seven percent of white evangelical Protestants now support allowing openly gay service members in the military, compared with 82 percent of white Catholics and 80 percent of those with no declared religious affiliation. Three-quarters of both married and single people support the idea, both significantly higher than in 1993.
Across all three periodic Post-ABC surveys on the issue, women have been more apt than men to support gays in the military. Today, more than eight in 10 women support allowing openly gay soldiers, compared with nearly two-thirds of men. Fifteen years ago, half of women supported this stance; nearly two-thirds of men opposed it. Furthermore, large majorities across age and education categories now support allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted by telephone July 10 to 13, among a random national sample of 1,119 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Error margins are larger for subgroups.
Even as we witness the controversies related to the role of gays and the place for their relationships in the life of the church, news like these remind us there is a radical change in the public attitudes about homosexuality in our culture. These changes seem to trascend religious preference, education, age and political persuation. It is quite illusory to think these attitudes and the tolerance they convey are somehow going to be erased as Americans enter churches on Sunday morning, read and interpret the Bible and choose those they want to lead them as pastors and bishops.
The Anglican Communion's crisis in this light seems more a clash of cultures and a natural consequence of changing public perceptions and attitudes than a battle for the soul of Christianity and Anglicanism as some would frame it. Are we becoming more liberal, permissive, tolerant of sin? Or is it that we are becoming more human, welcoming, respectful of the identity and rights of others? One thing seems certain, there is no way the clock can be set back nor human issues like these along with the persons they affect shoved back into the closet!