Americans have, for some time, supported the ability for gays to serve openly in the military, without the constraints of Don't Ask, Don't Tell-imposed secrecy. A new Pew survey confirms that this is still the case:
As 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.
These 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.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon's internal Don't Ask, Don't Tell review task force will release the findings of its study, delivering them to President Obama's desk. As The Washington Post has already reported, the review will find that ending DADT carries minimal risk to servicemembers and U.S. military campaigns.
The following day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, once again making their case that the policy should be ended. The day after that, on Friday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff themselves will appear before the same committee.
It would be difficult for Congress to end DADT before next year. It's wrapped up in the Defense authorization bill, and Republican senators have said they want to be able to debate amendments unrelated to DADT. It doesn't look like there will be enough time to do that before the end of the year.
So, even with the momentum of the Pentagon's review, it looks like DADT may get kicked down the road, subject to the vagaries of the Congress's incoming members.