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the Pentagon prepares to release its highly anticipated survey of military
personnel about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, most Americans (58%) say
they favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces. Fewer than
half that number (27%) oppose allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.
opinions have changed little in recent years. Since 2005 – including three
surveys this year – roughly 60% have consistently favored permitting
homosexuals to serve openly in the military. There is greater support for permitting
gays to serve openly today than there was in 1994, after President Clinton put
in place the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In July of
that year, 52% said
they favored allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military while
45% said they opposed allowing this.
national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and
the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Nov. 4-7 among 1,255
adults, finds continuing partisan and religious differences in opinions about
whether to permit gays and lesbians to serve openly in the nation’s armed forces.
majorities of Democrats (70%) and independents (62%) favor allowing gays to
serve openly. Republicans are divided (40% favor, 44% oppose). Among
conservative Republicans, far more oppose than favor allowing gays to serve
openly (52% to 28%).
half (48%) of white evangelical Protestants oppose letting gays serve openly in
the military, while just 34% support this proposal. Majorities or pluralities across
other religious groups favor allowing gays to serve openly.
balance of opinion across age groups is in favor of letting gays serve openly. Those
65 and older are the only age group in which fewer than half (44%) favors this;
still just 28% of seniors are opposed to gays and lesbians serving openly while
an identical percentage offers no opinion.
of college graduates (67%) favor gays and lesbians serving openly, as do more
than half of those with some college experience (55%) and those with no more
than a high school education (54%).
differences in opinions across political and demographic groups also were
evident in 1994. Since then, the balance of opinion among most groups has
become more favorable. (For more on changes in opinion about gays in the military, see Support for Same-Sex Marriage Edges Upward, Oct. 6, 2010.)
Republicans Are Less Supportive
all Republicans and Republican leaners, those who agree with the Tea Party are
less supportive of allowing gays to serve openly than are those who disagree
with the Tea Party or have no opinion of the movement.
about four-in-ten (38%) Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the
Tea Party favor allowing gays to serve openly while 48% are opposed. Among
those who disagree with the Tea Party or have no opinion of the movement, 52%
favor letting gays serve openly and just 30% are opposed.
Most of the analysis in this report is based on
telephone interviews conducted November 4-7, 2010 among a national sample of 1,255
adults 18 years of age or older living in the continental United States (828 respondents
were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 427 were interviewed on a cell
phone, including 189 who had no landline telephone). Interviewing was conducted
under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Both
the landline and cell phone samples were provided by Survey Sampling
International. Interviews were conducted in English. For detailed information
about our survey methodology, see: http://people-press.org/methodology/
The combined landline and cell phone sample are
weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education,
race/ethnicity, region, and population density to parameters from the March
2009 Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The sample also is weighted to
match current patterns of telephone status and relative usage of landline and cell
phones (for those with both), based on extrapolations from the 2009 National
Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact
that respondents with both landline and cell phones have a greater probability
of being included in the combined sample and adjusts for household size within
the landline sample. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take
into account the effect of weighting. The following table shows the error
attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence
for different groups in the survey:
In addition to sampling error, one should bear
in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys
can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
About the Projects
report is a joint effort of the Pew Research Center for the People & the
the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Both organizations are sponsored
by the Pew Charitable Trusts and are projects of the Pew Research Center, a
nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues,
attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
Research Center for the People & the Press is an independent opinion research group that studies
attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues. The Center’s purpose is to serve as a forum
for ideas on the media and public policy through public opinion research. In
this role it serves as an important information resource for political leaders,
journalists, scholars, and public interest organizations. All of the Center’s
current survey results are made available free of charge.
Forum on Religion & Public Life seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at
the intersection of religion and public affairs. It studies public opinion, demographics
and other important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around
the world. It also provides a neutral venue for discussions of timely issues
through roundtables and briefings.
report is a collaborative product based on the input and analysis of the
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Luis Lugo, Director
Alan Cooperman, Associate Director
Sandra Stencel, Associate Director
Greg Smith, Senior Researcher
John C. Green, Senior Research Advisor
Neha Sahgal and Christine Bhutta, Research Associates
Scott Clement, Research Analyst
Tracy Miller and Hilary Ramp, Editors
Diana Yoo, Graphic Designer
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
Andrew Kohut, Director
Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research
Carroll Doherty, Associate Director, Editorial
Michael Dimock, Associate Director, Research
Michael Remez, Senior Writer
Leah Christian and Jocelyn Kiley, Senior Researchers
Robert Suls, Shawn Neidorf and Alec Tyson, Research Associates
Jacob Poushter, Research Analyst
Danielle Gewurz, Research Assistant
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