Poll: Tea partiers more supportive of military gay ban

Liz Goodwin

A new Pew poll shows that most Americans support an end to the military's ban on openly gay service, but that support for repeal is lowest among tea-party-identifying Republicans. The poll comes out a day before the Pentagon releases its comprehensive working study that is expected to conclude there is little risk to ending "don't ask, don't tell."

Of self-identified Republicans or Republican-leaning respondents, 44 percent support letting gays serve openly. Among tea-party-leaning Republicans, the proportion drops to 38 percent.The tea party has a libertarian strain and attempts to appeal to independents by eschewing culture-war issues like abortion and gay rights in favor of issues such as government spending and the economy. The poll's results suggest that "don't ask, don't tell" may be a culture-war issue for tea-party-leaning Republicans, even though a leader of the Tea Party Patriots has expressed ambivalence about the issue.

Meanwhile, 58 percent of all Americans favor letting gays serve openly. Among those 18 to 29 years old, support rises to 68 percent. Sixty-three percent of women support repeal, as do 52 percent of men. Two-thirds of college grads think there should be no military ban on gays serving openly.

(Graphic: Pew Research Center)