Today, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon is “stepping up internal discussions on how gay men and lesbians might be able to serve openly in the armed services” in anticipation that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) will be repealed. A small group — put together by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen to prepare for congressional hearings — recently met on the issue:
A one-page memorandum drafted by staff members as a discussion point for the meeting said that the chiefs could adopt the view that “now is not the time” because of the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the military would be better off delaying the start of the repeal process until 2011.
The same memorandum, according to a military official who has seen it, also said that “every indicator of opinion over the past 16 years shows movement toward nondiscrimination based on orientation” and that “in time the law will change.”
Indeed, recent polling confirms this indicator. ThinkProgress obtained results from a November poll on DADT conducted by Democracy Corps that shows likely voters support ending the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the military by a 55 to 35 percent margin:
Pollsters Stan Greenberg and David Walker note that they “intentionally phrased this question using the most conservative language possible to avoid any suggestion of bias”; other surveys have shown even higher levels of support for repealing DADT. More from the results of likely voters:
— 53 percent of self-ascribed Republicans oppose lifting the ban. 71 percent of Democrats favor repeal, as do 58 percent of Independents.
— Only 11 percent believe that DADT makes the military stronger. 61 percent believe it makes no difference either way.
— 63 percent believe that a repeal of DADT should be implemented across the military all at the same time, rather than branch by branch.
— Catholic voters approve of repealing the ban in even higher numbers than the general public, with 64 percent in support and 29 percent in opposition.
In today’s White House press briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs responded to today’s New York Times story, saying, “[T]here have been discussions in the Pentagon — they will continue. We don’t have — I don’t yet have a time line out of those discussions. But I know they do continue.” In November, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said that a DADT repeal would “likely be included as part of next year’s Department of Defense authorization bill in both chambers of Congress.” However, in a C-SPAN interview set to air Sunday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO), who played a “major role” in crafting DADT, said that he opposes repealing the law.