The Pew Forum released a survey yesterday (see here) showing that 58% of Americans favor permitting gays to serve openly in the military. Only 27% are opposed. These figures are not surprising. Similar results have obtained in the last five years of polling. What I find interesting is the religious breakdown and the Republican reaction.
64% of White mainline Protestants favor gays serving openly; 52% of Black Protestants concur (only 29% are opposed despite the image of African Americans being conservative on social issues); 63% of Catholics favor gays serving openly (21% are opposed – I tried to search the U.S. Catholic Bishops site for a statement on the don’t ask don’t tell policy without success).
As might be expected only 34% of White Evangelicals support open service; 48% are opposed. Of regular churchgoers (I believe among Protestants and Catholics since the survey does not mention other faiths – though the unaffiliated overwhelmingly favor open service), the split is 40% to 40%. Regular churchgoers famously take more conservative positions. It is not clear whether regular churchgoers are more serious about religion, or whether religious non-churchgoers have been discouraged by the conservatism of religious leaders. I assume there is a mixture of both, and other factors as well.
Meanwhile, Senator Lindsay Graham maintains that there is no support on the Republican side of the aisle for repealing the current policy. It is not clear he is right about that (he might, for example, talk with Senators Snow and Murkowski), but right or wrong, as with tax cuts for the wealthy, the Republicans are siding with a small minority of the American people. Indeed, no religious group in the Pew Forum study musters a majority to oppose repeal, not even White Evangelicals.