CNN poll: 69% support letting gays serve openly in military -- including 62% of Republicans

There’s been a majority in favor of it since 1998 but the split at the time was 52/39. Now it’s 69/27, with Republicans and indies both above 60 percent. A fitting exclamation point to a week that saw conservatives hold the gay-friendliest CPAC evah.

Support for allowing gays in the military is much higher among Democrats than Republicans, but the policy wins support from a majority of Republicans as well. More than eight in ten Democrats say that gays should be allowed to serve; 62 of Republicans and 63 percent of Independents agree with that view.

The poll’s release follows Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut announcement Monday that he would be a sponsor of legislation next week to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which has been in place since 1993…

In 1994, a majority of Americans thought homosexual relationships were morally wrong; only 41 percent believed that homosexuality was not a moral issue. Now, for the first time since polls began asking this question in the 1970s, half the public thinks that homosexuality is not a moral issue.

The split on that last point is 48/50 between is/isn’t, but that trend will likely skew towards the latter over the next few years too. (Interesting footnote: In 1998, it was 48/45, so the “is” faction is holding steady thus far.) For all the blather about liberal realignment after The One was elected, I think gay issues is one area where it might actually happen — ironically because Obama’s economic agenda is so alarming to conservatives that it’s forced them to reprioritize fiscal responsibility as their organizing principle. Abortion will remain a fault line eternally because it’s a matter of life and death, but the libertarian impulse inside the GOP will continue to make inroads vis-a-vis gays. There’s nothing like aggressive statism to concentrate the mind on what’s most important.

Here’s Petraeus on Meet the Press this Sunday playing coy about his own opinion of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He does say he supports the moves taken by Gates and Mullen but seems to want to go slow and let the Pentagon carry out a full review. (See this NYT story for a counterargument.) Given the numbers in CNN’s poll, I’m not sure how politically viable the review will be if it concludes we should stick with the policy.

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