Listen to the American people: Repeal "don't ask don't tell"

Jonathan Capehart
Copyright 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; 1:11 PM

News that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will vote in favor of repeal of "don't ask don't tell" means the amendment will pass out of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military is one step closer to elimination. But we're not there yet. So, I have a message for the fence-sitters in Congress who don't know whether they should vote to lift this shameful prohibition in the coming days: The people of the United States don't have a problem with gays in the military -- and neither should you. Because folks on Capitol Hill seem to live and breathe by public opinion polls let me remind them of three that hit in February that helped push us to our current, hopeful point. A Post/ABC News poll showed that 75 percent of Americans support ending "don't ask don't tell." One from the New York Times put support for gay men and lesbians serving openly at 70 percent. And 57 percent surveyed by Quinnipiac University favored repealing the 16-year-old law. Gallup shows that 70 percent of the American people are in line with that sentiment in a poll released on Monday. As the data show, their attitudes toward gays serving openly in the military have changed positively since 1993. It's about time Congress caught up. Many on Capitol Hill are fond of saying that Washington ought to listen to the American people. Well, now's the perfect time to make good on that mantra. Repeal "don't ask don't tell."

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