Eight in 10 Americans believe homosexuals should not be discharged from military service solely because of their sexual orientation, according to a poll released by a homosexual rights group.
And 80 percent of those surveyed said homosexuals should not be discriminated against in the workplace, according to the poll, conducted for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, a national gay lobbying group."The significance of the poll is that the American public is accepting the fact that gays and lesbians are in the military, and that they don't find anything wrong with it," said Timothy McFeeley, executive director of the campaign fund. "I think this is a general sign that prejudices are breaking down."
McFeeley said he would be sending copies of the poll to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, President Bush and key members of Congress.
"We want to try to do something this year to try to change (the Pentagon's) policy," he said.
Defense Department policy states: "Homosexuality is incompatible with military service." The official reasoning is that the presence of homosexuals "seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission."
However, gay and civil rights leaders have been agitating to overturn the policy, arguing it is discriminatory and that the Defense Department's own research refutes it.
"DOD has no plans to change that policy," Maj. Doug Hart, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday.
During the Persian Gulf conflict, the military discharged a number of active duty troops and reservists for admitting they were homosexual. While several of these discharges were covered by the media, the Pentagon has no official data yet, Hart said.