By a margin of 60% to 32% the public now supports a policy of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. This represents significantly broader support for this inclusive policy than in 1994, when 52% favored allowing gays to serve openly and 45% were opposed. Support has grown in most segments of society, particularly among young people — those under age 30 favor an open policy by three-to-one (72% to 23%). But the balance of opinion has shifted in favor of allowing open service across all age groups. Regionally, the South has seen the biggest change in opinion on this issue. In 1994 the South was the only region in which a majority of residents (55%) opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Today, just 35% in the South take this position, while 58% support open service. Republicans are divided on the issue — 46% favor allowing gays to serve openly and 46% are opposed. A majority of conservative Republicans oppose such a policy, while moderate and liberal Republicans favor it by a wide margin (62%-29%). Democrats of all ideological groups tend to favor allowing gays in the military, though liberal Democrats are nearly universal in their support (85%-9%). Independents also favor the policy by a 66%-to-30% margin. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.