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Religious Tolerance logo

Gays in the U.S. Military: The Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy

2009 to 2011: Individual opinion polls on
gays & lesbians serving openly in the military

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See another essay for an overview and longitudinal polls extending over many years.

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Results of individual national public opinion polls:


2009-APR-27: A Quinnipiac University poll asked the question: ""Federal law currently prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Do you think this law should be repealed or not?" They found 60% agreed and 36% disagreed. The question was asked after many questions relating to marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, so the earlier responses may have depressed the level of support for the abolition of DADT. The margin of error was ±2.2 percentage points. 7


2009-MAY: A Gallup poll revealed that support for an end to DADT has risen significantly since their earlier survey in 2004, from 63% to 69%. They asked the question: "Do you favor or oppose allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military?"

The majority of every group sampled, including:
bullet Political conservatives moderates and liberals,
bullet Republicans, Democrats and Independents,
bullet Persons who attend church every week, most weeks, monthly, seldom and never, and
bullet Adults of all ages from 18 to 65+
favor repeal of DADT. 58% of Republicans, 57% of those from the U.S. South, 57% of those with a high-school education or less, and 58% of those describing themselves as political conservatives support allowing gays to openly serve. All of the other groupings had levels of support 60% or more.

The margin of error is ±3 percentage points. 9


2010-FEB: An ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed that 83% of American adults support lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in the military if they don't publicly disclose their sexual orientation; there is 75% support for sexual minorities who do disclose.

One interesting result of the poll is that 63% of Americans say they personally have a friend, family memberor acquaintance who is gay. They report that:

"Compared to those who have no such connection, they’re 12 to 15 [percentage] points more apt to favor gays in the military. 10

A majority of American adults in all measured demographic, partisan and ideological groupings support allowing bisexuals and homosexuals to serve openly in the military:

  • Gender: Men: 65%; Women: 84%.
  • Age: Seniors: 69%; Under 30: 81%
  • Education: High school or less: 71%; Post grad: 84%
  • Political party: Democrats: 82%; Republicans: 64%; Independents: 77%
  • Philosophy: Liberals: 90%; Moderates: 79%; Conservatives: 61%
  • Have gay friend or family member: Yes: 81%; No: 66% 10

Unfortunately, this poll did not inquire into what is probably the most significant

Apparently the Republican party and the main fundamentalist and other evangelical parachurch groups are out of touch with the wishes of their membership during a critical vote on 2010-SEP-21. 100% of the Republican Senators voted in favor of continuing DADT. 100% of the conservative Protestant religious groups supported that move.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in 1992 that: "... there are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment." However, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not taken an active role in the current debate. 11


2010-NOV: The Pew Research Center reported that support for the repeal of the DADT policy has over a 2:1 support among the American people (58% in favor of repeal; 27% opposed, 15% don't know or didn't answer.) A majority of men, women, Democrats, and Independents all support repeal. Among Republicans, 40% favor repeal; 44% are opposed, and 16% don't know or didn't answer. 11

A Quinnipiac University Poll also found that 58% of both all Americans and respondents with a member of the military in their family, support an end to DADT.12

However, the Huffington Post reported that:

"... among those who said they 'agree with the Tea Party' only 38% favor and 48% oppose allowing open service. Similarly, only 34% of white evangelical Protestants favor and 48% oppose allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. ... a recent McClatchy Company poll by Marist College found that registered voters were divided on repealing the policy during the current Congress, with 47% saying the current Democratic Congress should repeal the policy and 48% saying they should not repeal it 'so they continue to serve but not openly.' Another recent poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 50% of adults supported allowing open service but 48% either supported continuing the current policy or not permitting service at all when explicitly offered those options. 11


2010-DEC-12: A Washington Post-ABC News Poll taken on DEC-09 to 12, revealed that almost 8 out of 10 American adults favor ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The poll used the term "homosexuals" for half the persons samples, and "gays and lesbians" for the other half. They found similar results for each term. margin of error is ±3.5 percentage points

The Washington Post reported:

When asked -- "Do you think [homosexuals/gays and lesbians] who do NOT publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military or not?" -- 83 percent of respondents said yes, 14 percent said no and 4 percent had no opinion.

And when asked -- "Do you think [homosexuals/gays and lesbians] who DO publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military or not?" -- 77 percent said yes, 21 percent said no and 2 percent had no opinion.

Detailed Results: 13

First question asked: "Changing topics, do you think [half sample: homosexuals/half sample: gays and lesbians] who do NOT publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military or not?"

Date Yes No No opinion/no anwser

Second question asked: "Do you think [half sample: homosexuals/half sample: gays and lesbians] who DO publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military or not?"

Date Yes No No opinion/no anwser

On the second question, 86% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, 70% of white evangelicals and 84% of NOTAS (None of the above/persons with no religious affiliation) support an end to the DADT policy.

These polling data have exposed an apparent problem in the Republican Party:

  • Only 8% of the Republican representatives (15 persons) in the House voted in favor of a bill to repeal DADT.
  • Only 20% of the Republican senators (8 persons) in the Senate voted in favor of the bill.
  • However, 74% of Republican voters favor repeal.

The Republican party appears to be driven by an ideology that is out of touch with their supporters.

The Democratic party is closer to its own voters:

  • 94% of the Democratic representatives in the House (241 individuals) voted in favor of the bill.
  • 100% of the Democratic senators voted in favor.
  • 86% of Democratic voters favor repeal.
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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Same-sex marriage, gay rights," Polling Report, at:
  2. Scott S. Greenberger, "One year later, nation divided on gay marriage. Split seen by region, age, Globe poll finds," Boston Globe, 2005-MAY-15, at:
  3. "Nationwide opinions," The Boston Globe, at:
  4. John Zogby, et al., "Opinions of Military Personnel on Sexual Minorities in the Military," 2006-DEC, at: This is a PDF file
  5. "Law and civil rights," Polling Report, at:
  6. Kyle Dropp & Jon Cohen, "Acceptance of Gay People in Military Grows Dramatically," Washington Post, 2009-JUL-19, at:
  7. "Law and civil rights," Polling Report, at:
  8. "Obama aide: 'Ending don't ask don't tell must wait," CNN, 2009-JAN-15, at:
  9. Lymari Morales, "Conservatives Shift in Favor of Openly Gay Service Members," Gallup Inc., 2009-JUN-05, at:
  10. "Support for Gays in the Military Crosses Ideological, Party Lines," ABC News, 2010-FEB-12, at: This is a PDF file.
  11. Emily Swanson, "Most support DADT repeal, but Tea Party opposed," Huffington Post, 2010-NOV-29, at:
  12. Ed O'Keefe, "Democrats confident in repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," Washington Post, 2010-NOV-19, at:
  13. Ed. O'Keefe & Hon Cohen, "Most back repealing 'don't ask, don't tell,' poll says," Washington Post, 2010-DEC-15, at:
  14. "Where is the USCCB on 'Don't Ask, Don'tTell'?", 2010-DEC-29, at:

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Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Challenges > DADT > here

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Copyright © 2000 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-16
Latest update: 2010-DEC-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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