With our nation at war and so many Americans serving on the front lines, our troops and their families deserve the certainty that can only come when an act of Congress ends this discriminatory policy once and for all. The House of Representatives has already passed the necessary legislation. Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally. Our troops represent the virtues of selfless sacrifice and love of country that have enabled our freedoms. I am absolutely confident that they will adapt to this change and remain the best led, best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever known.
That 75% figure along with the chart above come from FiveThirtyEight’s Brian McCabe. He breaks down public opinion on the policy into three categories; the “permissive” hold that gay men and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly, the “restrictive” that they should be allowed to serve in the military so long as they stay in the closet and the “prohibitive” that they should not be allowed to serve.
The gap between the permissive and restrictive positions offers an unobtrusive measure of support for the policy position behind “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
From 1993 to 2008, support for the idea that gay men and lesbians should only be allowed to serve if they conceal their identity shrank considerably. In 1993, 19 percent of Americans supported this position; by 2008, only 3 percent of Americans supported this position.
The data comes from a series of ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted since the implementation of the policy in 1993. The results are crystal clear. The American people overwhelmingly do not support the policy:
In 1993, 44 percent of Americans approved of service by gays and lesbians who publicly disclosed their sexual orientation; by 2008, the percentage had risen to 75 percent. This rise by more than 30 percentage points is remarkable, especially compared with trends on other civil rights issues for gay Americans. We can think of this as a trend in support of the permissive attitude of open service.
The blue series plots results from the question about service by gay men and lesbians who do not disclose their sexual orientation. Support for this position rose by 15 percentage points in the same period, to 78 percent, from 63 percent.
And the area above the blue line represents the percentage of Americans who believe gay men and lesbians should not be allowed to serve in the military. Since 1993, support for the prohibitive position has fallen. When “don’t ask” was implemented, nearly 40 percent of Americans supported the prohibitive position, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll; by 2008, support for the prohibitive position had dropped to 22 percent.
The American people do not support the policy. The American military does not support the policy. A clear cultural majority has embraced LGBT people. Politicians’ reluctance to act in ways that a clear majority of citizens support will ultimately cost them dearly.
Politicians like Reps. Buck McKeon (R-CA) who will be the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Joe “you lie” Wilson (R-SC) who will head the subcommittee on Military Personnel. They issued a joint statement today:
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, stated: “Using the last days of a lame duck Congress to hastily repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ would be highly irresponsible. Today’s Pentagon report must be thoroughly examined by the committees of jurisdiction to determine potential impacts on military recruitment, readiness, and morale. Lawmakers and military leaders need to have as much information as possible before any action is taken on such a significant military policy.”
McKeon continued, “Democratic leaders in Congress have indicated that they will try to rush to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the waning days of the 111th Congress. This would be irresponsible. As Secretary Gates acknowledged earlier this year, the decision to repeal the law is Congress’s decision. Further, Gates told our committee that it’s ‘vitally important, in part because it will enable us, should the Congress change the policy, to be able to tell our men and women in uniform, this is the view of the elected representatives of the United States of America.’”
“Just as Secretary Gates had an opportunity to conduct a thorough review of the implications of repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Congress must now exert its own due diligence so we understand the ramifications of overturning the law. The House Armed Services Committee should immediately schedule hearings in order to begin the oversight process necessary to handle an issue of this magnitude,” concluded McKeon.
Jon Stewart effectively nails John McCain on that need for more review argument…
He was at it again this past Sunday. What an ignoble way to end a career.