Americans are ready to scrap DADT

AMERICANS ARE READY TO SCRAP DADT…. I suspect the White House is reluctant to push too aggressively on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” right now because officials are afraid of derailing other priorities. If Obama were to scrap DADT this afternoon, he’d expect a big political fight, which in turn would draw attention away from ongoing efforts on health care, energy, and the like.

But this approach is predicated on the assumption that repealing DADT is wildly controversial. It’s not.

Americans are six percentage points more likely than they were four years ago to favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military, 69% to 63%. While liberals and Democrats remain the most supportive, the biggest increase in support has been among conservatives and weekly churchgoers — up 12 and 11 percentage points, respectively.

So, not only do seven in 10 Americans support allowing otherwise-eligible gay volunteers to serve openly, but a clear majority (58%) of conservatives support it, too.

Scrapping DADT wouldn’t just reflect common sense and sound military policy, it’s an idea that enjoys majority support among Americans in every ideology, every political party, every age group, and every region (yes, even the South). Among those who attend church services every week — a group one might expect to support DADT — 60% support gay men and women serving openly in the military.

Gallup Poll data from 2009 reveal that majority support among Americans for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has only strengthened in recent years. Repealing the policy is a promise Obama made on the campaign trail and is one that gay rights groups have recently been more vocal in urging him to fulfill. While the administration to date has not taken action on the issue, the Gallup Poll data indicate that the public-opinion environment favors such a move.

In particular, the more conservative segments of the population who could be expected to be most resistant to such a policy change have shifted in favor of repealing the existing ban, to the extent that majority support now spans all segments of the population.

Nearly as encouraging, Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, announced this week that he will support the president’s position on repealing the discriminatory policy. “I have no interest as either a Member of Congress or as … secretary of the Army to exclude by some categorization a group of people otherwise qualified to serve,” McHugh told Roll Call.

The commitment to change the policy is clear, as is the public support. All we need now is the political will.