By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
One other item worth noting from the new Gallup poll on Americans' views regarding gays: A huge majority of Americans—69 percent—now support gays being able to serve in the U.S. military.
Americans' views about allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military have undergone a major shift since Bill Clinton attempted to change military policy early in his administration. No more than 43% of Americans favored military service by openly gay soldiers in 1993, according several NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls conducted that year. Clinton and the military eventually compromised on the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that allowed gays to serve as long as they did not disclose their sexual orientation.
No thought on why the change, but it may be that nearly eight years of conflict have had an effect on public attitudes. And while Obama did promise to lift the ban, he has not moved, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in late March that nothing was imminent. And the inaction is generating angst and anger among gay and liberal Obama supporters. Andrew Sullivan, for example, wrote:
But I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.
I generally favor the notion that Obama's critics on the left should settle down and let him do his job for more than a few months before passing judgment upon him. Gays in the military especially seemed to me to be a classic example of an issue that is both clear-cut (of course gays should be able to serve) and also not top-tier, especially if one recalls the way it scalded Clinton early in his term. But the politics may have changed enough on it that it's time for the president to expend some political capital fulfilling this promise.
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