A majority of Americans favor repeal of “don't ask, don't tell,” the policy that bans gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in the military.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters released Wednesday, 57 percent of respondents believe gay troops should serve openly, while 36 percent disagree. An even larger number – 66% – believe the policy is discriminatory.

“By a solid margin, American voters say go ahead and allow gays to openly serve in the military,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

“Voters think 2-1 that keeping gays from serving is discrimination. But they are much more mixed on exactly how the transformation of the military will occur and how the Pentagon should adjust to the needs of gay soldiers, sailors and Marines,” he added.

The poll found near universal support (82%) for the military ending disciplinary action against gay men and lesbians outed against their will.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already ordered a 45-day study on how to do just that. Gates said the Pentagon would consider implementing a “fairer” version of the law at a recent key Senate panel studying the issue.

The survey also found a majority of respondents (65%) do not believe repeal will hurt the military's ability to fight effectively on the battlefield. However, by a margin of 54%-38%, voters say gay troops should face restrictions on exhibiting their sexual orientation.