Unambiguous public support for repealing DADT

UNAMBIGUOUS PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR REPEALING DADT…. Congressional Republicans may not care about the wishes of the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, the White House, or House and Senate majorities, but they should at least take note of the fact that Americans overwhelmingly support ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Nearly eight in 10 Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The results signal continued widespread public support for ending the military’s 17-year ban on gays in the military and come as Congress prepares to vote again on legislation ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.

Overall, 77 percent of Americans say gays and lesbians who publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be able to serve in the military. That’s little changed from polls over the two years, but represents the highest level of support in a Post-ABC poll. The support also cuts across partisan and ideological lines, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans, independents, liberals, conservatives and white evangelical Protestants in favor of homosexuals’ serving openly.

That last part strikes me as especially interesting. Two-thirds of self-identified conservative Republicans support repeal, though on Capitol Hill, exactly zero self-identified conservative Republicans support repeal.

Overall, 77% of Americans don’t agree on much, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues. This is about as close as we get to “consensus.”

And yet, Republicans might kill repeal anyway. A vote is expected in the House today on a standalone repeal bill, which should pass with relative ease. It will then move to the Senate where its fate is uncertain, though there are hints of optimism.

Regardless, as far as GOP senators are concerned, the proposal with overwhelming public support doesn’t even deserve an up-or-down vote. Republicans could vote against repeal, of course, but that’s not good enough — they have to stop the Senate from even considering the issue, regardless of public attitudes or requests from the Pentagon.

(This morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined priorities for the rest of the lame-duck session, and didn’t mention DADT. I’ve been told by a reliable source that Reid simply misspoke, and omitted this by accident.)

Soon after the midterms, Republicans went around insisting that policymakers need to “listen to the American people.” I guess that sentiment doesn’t apply when Republicans don’t like what they hear.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.