Nearly six in 10 Americans support allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military, a number that suggests Americans would support repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," according to a new poll released Monday.
The Pew Research survey comes a day before the Pentagon is set to release a report on the controversial policy. The Senate Armed Services is also scheduled to hold hearings on that report Thursday and Friday.
The poll found that 58 percent of respondents support letting homosexuals serve openly in the military while 27 oppose it. Those numbers are nearly unchanged since 2005.
A higher percentage support gay servicemen serving openly now than in July of 1994, when Pres. Bill Clinton enacted the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Just over half -- 52 percent -- supported open service then while 45 percent opposed.
The Pew survey found a significant partisan divide on the issue -- forecasting what will likely be contentious Senate hearings later this week. Democrats and Independents favor gays serving in the military by large margins -- 70 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents.
Among Republicans, the Tea Party wing of the party opposes the issue more than the GOP as a whole. More Republicans oppose gays serving openly -- 44 percent -- than support it -- 40 percent. But Republicans who align with the Tea Party movement oppose it by a 10-point margin, 48 percent to 38 percent. Republicans unaligned with the Tea Party actually support gay servicemen to serve openly in the military, 52 percent to 30 percent.
The Pew survey was conducted Nov. 4 to 7 and surveyed 1,255 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
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