(CNN) - Most Americans say people who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military, with one in five opposed.
"Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups."
Full results [pdf]
The poll's release comes just hours after Congressional Democrats reached an agreement Monday with the White House and possibly the Pentagon on a key legislative step toward repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars openly gay soldiers from the military.
In a letter to President Barack Obama obtained by CNN, three congressional sponsors of legislation to repeal the policy outlined the proposed agreement that would set contingencies based on completion of a military review of the matter already under way and subsequent final approval from the president and military leaders.
Specifically, the proposed agreement calls for repeal to become final only after completion of the military review expected by the end of 2010, followed by a review certification from Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.
The Pentagon released a statement Tuesday saying that "Secretary Gates continues to believe that ideally the DOD review should be completed before there is any legislation to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell law. With Congress having indicated that is not possible, the Secretary can accept the language in the proposed amendment."
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 21-23, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.