Poll: How Gays Are Described Influences Support For DADT Repeal

February 11, 2010 9:44 am

There’s a new round of polling on gays in the military out today that sheds a fascinating light on the debate in America. Yesterday came the poll showing that a large majority of Americans support the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but remain split on giving gay men and lesbians equal rights if they serve. Today comes numbers showing American support for ending the ban on gays serving openly in the military depends on the wording used to describe homosexuals.A new CBS News/New York Times poll released this afternoon shows 57% of Americans approve of “homosexuals” serving in the military. Change the word “homosexual” to “gay men and lesbians” and the support jumps to 70%. The change in support holds when respondents were asked whether they think “homosexuals” vs. “gay men and lesbians” should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

On the “serve openly” question, 44% were in favor when the word “homosexual” is used, and 42% were opposed. When that word was swapped for the alternate “gay men and lesbians” wording, support for serving openly jumped to 58%. Just 28% were opposed.

The wording not withstanding, the poll mirrors others showing support for gays being allowed to serve openly in the military is on the rise. In a CBS/NYT poll taken in 1993 — the year DADT became law — 56% said they were opposed to homosexuals serving openly in the military, while just 37% were in favor of it.

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