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A new Harris Poll shows that just over half of Americans, 55%, think gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Which means that nearly half think they shouldn’t.

Nineteen percent said that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve “only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret,” and nearly one in five, 18%, said gays and lesbians should “not be allowed to serve in the military at all.”

So, sexual politics trumps national security then? Do we want a secure border, a stable Afghanistan, a contained Iraq? Not if it means homosexuals are given guns. Is that rational? Sexual prejudice aside, the military needs all the bodies it can get, and if someone is willing to volunteer for what are surely dire deployments, shouldn’t those of us armchairing it applaud each and every one of them? How does sexuality hamper military performance? I mean, I may not agree with polygamy but I wouldn’t propose we prevent practicing Mormons from entering the fray.

The poll also asked Americans about the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibits the military from asking personnel about their sexual orientation, but allows homosexuality to be a cause for discharge. Forty-six percent of respondents said they oppose the policy, no more and no less than the 46% who opposed it when asked in 2000. More than a third, 36%, said they favor the policy, up from 34% seven years ago.

What, I wonder, are we so afraid of? Yes, I’m asking. Do tell.

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