Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 15, 2010

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.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Whenever I make note of the remarks in opposition I have to laugh at the Commodant of the Marine Corps in his opposition. In the recent hearings the Vice Chariman of the JCS told of a remark made to him of a Navy Seal saying that in his unit was a very valuable member who was gay and he was respected as a most capable fighter. I wonder if the MC Commodant could believe that such a person(s) ever existed or now exist in the Marine Corp. Perhaps the General is too stupid or close minded to believe it. The old saying "I can see the enemy and he is US!"

Posted by: fillphil on December 15, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

This needs more study! Congress needs answers to questions. Such as, "How much money did those 70% donate to my re-election campaign? Hmmm?"

Posted by: DAY on December 15, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Guess what? The 2 in 10 who don't support repeal are the GOP base.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on December 15, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

And the Washington Post this morning reports the head of the Marine Corps says repealing DADT with increase casualties because gays in the military will be a distraction.

That's all the bigots need to justify their filibuster. It is now a life or death matter for the soldiers at the front.

Posted by: martin on December 15, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Rs don't listen to the public / those that elected them. They "lead." Dems have to listen to the will of the people if any R has ever been elected.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on December 15, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, from Twitter:

"MT @OKnox: DeMint will force full reading of START treaty on the floor, aide says. Likely to take a full day."

Same old same old: obstruct, delay, run out the clock. I'm sure Republicans will do everything they can to kill all remaining legislation (except tax cuts for the rich), including DADT.

Posted by: delNorte on December 15, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Never let a proven wedge issue go to waste!

And DADT is still a good one. Hell, they've kept around issues with far less than 20%.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 15, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I often hear this blog make the point that a particular piece of legislation (DADT, public option, etc.) has strong public appeal yet conservatives vote against it anyway.

Why is that the Democrats can't make Republicans pay a political price for voting against popular bills? Are Democrats really that inept at being politicians?

Harry Reid, where are you? Isn't a major part of your job to shape and shepherd legislation so that it has the advantageous political effect? Is that being too cynical? I hope not because it often seems to me that Republicans do this very well despite being in the minority. Why can't Reid do it? Or is Reid hamstrung by a bad team of fellow senators?

Posted by: tomb on December 15, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

A vote against DADT is safe for republicans because even though US citizens would be happy to see this repealed, the majority don't vote or contribute based on a rep/senator's position. On the other hand, there is money to be made and attacks to avoid from the homophobes AND there's the matter of John McCain. I suspect a good number of Republican senators just don't want to deal with his hissy fits over this issue, and it's easier to give in to him than vote with the US people!

Posted by: elisabeth on December 15, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Come on, we don't base crucial national security decisions on the results of opinion polls. That's nowhere NEAR listening to the American people, who spoke clearly by electing Republicans to a majority in Congress in order to enact an extreme right-wing agenda.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on December 15, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Polls are like Supreme Court decisions: when we agree with them, they are objective proof of our wisdom and insight. When we disagree, they just show you how stupid some people can be.

Posted by: Wally on December 15, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

This is a win-win for GOP senators: even though the vast majority of people are in favor of repeal, it's not an issue that's high on most people's priorities for Congress -- unless you're a gay service member, of course. So there's no real downside for voting no. Somebody's not going to change their vote based on this. On the other hand, voting no earns them street cred with their far-right base, which *does* have the power to punish them if they don't toe the line.

It's essentially the same problem as with the tax cut debate. A small, but powerful minority has the ear (and balls) of our politicians. So they get their trust funds protected and the rest of us, and the nation's financial security, can go to hell.

Posted by: jonas on December 15, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

The basic problem is that Progressives need elect principaled and gutsy progressives-- starting with the Prez.And the principals and policies we are talking about are not left-wing nutters--- they are policies supported by Ford, Nixon, Eisenhower--- hell, even Dewey. If that means, BHO is defeated in 2012-- so be it. He is more likely to be toast than a Progressive.

The sooner BHO is challenged, the better. My bet is that a vaguely credible challenger would immediately garner 20-30% support in the polls. That's NOT Nader-levels of 2-5%, and would really change the political calculus.

Posted by: gdb on December 15, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Fix the Senate for starters..


Then, like gdb suggests, spay or neuter the President.

Posted by: Trollop on December 15, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Trollop. The prez is the easiest fix-- one position, no encumbent (If BHO is out), and the Prez greatly influences the House and Senate. Had BHO acted like a principaled Dem, both House and Senate woyuld be Dem majorities today. The Senate in 2012 IS a real Dem problem-- something like 23 Dem incumbents and 12 Repub. Good luck with that with Bush-lite as Prez.

Posted by: gdb on December 15, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

IF DADT is repealed, this gives a real boost to equality of rights for gay people. Additionally, the poll represents real progress in the arena of acceptance of gay lifestyles... Now, the question is, does the public think of gay guys as more like Kurt on "Glee," a stereotype if ever one existed, or more like Brian on "Queer as Folk," a good looking athletic intelligent gay guy. I would posit the first (but find it interesting that FOX TV's highest rated shows undermines the message of FOX news). Where this leads is I do not know, but certainly image matters and if the Kurt character is non-threatening and non-sexual will the public be as accepting when they find out most gays do not fit the stereotype.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on December 15, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Posted by: Mr DeBakey on December 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK



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