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Survey shows slight increase in reported number of gays serving in the military

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 27, 2010; A17

An estimated 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people are serving in the U.S. military, roughly 2 percent of all military personnel, according to a report released Tuesday by a gay rights policy center. The figures suggest a slight increase in the number of gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the military, and they provide opponents of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy with fresh data as they lobby the Obama administration for its repeal.

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals account for about 13,000 active duty service members, equal to less than 1 percent currently deployed, the report estimated. About 53,000 others serve in the National Guard and reserves, equaling about 3.4 percent.

The actual number of gays, lesbians and bisexuals serving in uniform is unknown; the military does not track such figures. The research brief was released by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, a public policy institute that studies sexual orientation law.

Its authors used a variety of statistical methods to arrive at the estimate, drawing in part on the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey and the 2000 Census, in which some people identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual and as serving in the military. A similar 2004 study, widely quoted by gay rights advocates and supportive lawmakers, estimated that roughly 65,000 gay people were serving in the military.

Although President Obama's top domestic policy aides insist that the president is committed to an equality agenda for gays and lesbians, many liberal and gay rights groups are unhappy that the administration has failed to act on Obama's campaign pledge to end "don't ask, don't tell."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the issue has been "a point of discussion" among top White House aides. Gibbs declined to say whether Obama will mention his support for a repeal in his State of the Union address Wednesday.

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