By STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Sixty-nine percent of Florida voters support allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the U.S. military, according to a new survey released Monday by Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights group.
``We are in a time of war. If we need soldiers and people want to serve, then they should be allowed to serve,'' national pollster Dave Beattie said of his findings. ``It doesn't matter if you are gay or straight, if you can get the job done in the battle zone, that's pretty consistent.''
The survey shows that 21 percent oppose allowing gays to serve.
Three-quarters of Democrats and Independents and two-thirds of Republicans ``who are not `very conservative' '' support allowing gays to serve, according to Hamilton Campaigns, which did the poll from April 22-25.
The gap narrows, however, when voters were asked about the controversial ``don't ask, don't tell'' policy, which enables gays to serve as long as they don't say they are gay.
Fifty-one percent say they oppose the law; 44 percent say they favor it.