Gays in the military: opinions about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” among Hunch users
The issue about whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in the military is a hotly debated topic in the United States.
There are actually 3 main sides to the issue: 1) whether to allow openly gay men and women to serve, 2) whether gays and lesbians should be completely barred from serving (while this isn’t being considered, it’s still an opinion held by plenty of people), or 3) whether a “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy (which has been in place since 1993) should continue. There’s plenty of debate happening about all angles of the issue, even as initial steps are put in place to prepare for the possible repeal of the current DADT policy.
We looked at some of the aggregate data from Hunch users to see how they felt about this issue. Note that we included all Hunch users (not just those in the US) who had answered the following “Teach Hunch About You” (THAY) question:
Among more than 45,000 Hunch users who answered the question, 72% answered that gays should be allowed in the military, 24% favored keeping “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and 4% thought that gays shouldn’t be allowed to serve at all.
The 72% answering that gays should be allowed to serve represents a higher percentage than the 54% of Americans estimated to favor repeal of DADT. There are at least 2 main reasons to explain the difference:
1) Hunch’s current audience skews towards young adults (18-34), technophiles, and liberals. These groups tend to be more accepting of a policy allowing openly gay men and women to serve, as the charts below illustrate.
2) Hunch’s question framed the issue with 3 possible outcomes while other polls simply ask about keeping or repealing DADT. This likely has an effect on how people answer.
Partially mitigating these factors is the fact that Hunch’s audience is global, and Hunch users outside of North America tend to be less tolerant of allowing gays to serve in the military.
We haven’t manipulated the Hunch data to re-weight or adjust for these differences. Rather than go through all those shenanigans, we figured we’d present the unaltered data as-is, because it’s still interesting to explore the relative differences in opinions among different sub-groups.
Opinions by age of respondent
Hunch users 18-49 have the highest incidence of answering that gays should be allowed to serve; this support drops among older and younger people.
Opinions by political ideology
Not surprisingly, conservatives have the highest rate (46%) of being in favor of keeping the current DADT policy in place. A further 14% of conservatives favor completely barring gays and lesbians from serving. Respondents who are “middle of the road” show significantly higher rates of acceptance, with liberals more tolerant still.
Opinions by comfort with technology
The minority of Hunch users who say they are “not comfortable with technology” show a greater resistance to gays in the military, with 36% of these respondents indicating that gays/lesbians should either be barred or allowed to serve only within the context of a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. (as you might expect, this measure is also highly correlated with age)
Opinions by gender of the respondent
Females (currently about 35% of Hunch users) are significantly more likely than males to favor allowing gays or lesbians to serve; male Hunch users are 37% more likely to favor keeping DADT than females are.
Opinions by continent of residence
Support for allowing gays in the military is highest among Hunch users residing in North America and Oceana. Support falls significantly among users residing in Asia and Africa, with a quarter of Hunch users from Africa feeling that gays should be completely banned from the military. It’s interesting that European Hunch users are more conservative on this issue than North American Hunch users, since many European countries already have policies in place allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve.
Opinions by type of military service
Among Hunch users who have ever served in the military, roughly 1/3 favor a DADT-like policy. 54% of former officers and 57% of former enlisted people favor a completely open policy, while 11% of both groups favor a complete ban. The military’s own poll among active troops indicates about a 30% rate of favoring repeal of DADT, with 51% opposed to a repeal.
Opinions by whether respondent has gay friends
Having a close friend who is gay or lesbian is a significant predictor for someone’s opinions about gays in the military. The 59% of Hunch users who say they have a close gay or lesbian friend are 41% more likely to favor allowing gays to serve. A third of Hunch users with no close gay/lesbian friends favor keeping DADT.
The data used in the charts above is based on Teach Hunch About You (THAY) questions which were answered by Hunch users between March 2009 and February 2010. You can check out more Hunch reports on many other topics here.