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Military Survey on DADT: What Would Your Family Think?

July 11, 2010

There is a lot to be said about the Pentagon survey that went out to soldiers asking their feelings regarding the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  In fact, a lot has been said since it was released at the end of last week.  From Kerry Eleveld’s piece in The Advocate:

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, pointed out that the Pentagon has never been in the habit of surveying service members about personnel policies. He noted that President Harry Truman conducted no inquiries before racially integrating the military in 1948, nor were troops consulted in the 1970s when the service academies began accepting women or even as recently as within the past few years when the Navy decided to allow women to serve on submarines.

Having reviewed the survey, one question strikes me as way more ridiculous than most (including questions about “open bay showers”).

If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed, how, if at all, would the way your family feels about your military service be affected?

I’m a firm believer that 99% of the men and women who are serving would not waver in their commitment to fight for the US because they found out which of their colleagues are gay.  (Keeping in mind, the gay soldiers are already there.  DADT just operates on the premise that ignorance is bliss–if I don’t know for sure someone is gay, I won’t mind serving with them.)  While I think surveying on this is 100% wrong, I can concede that if you think this survey is a good idea, an obvious question to ask outright is if serving with openly gay soldiers would affect the likelihood one would re-enlist.  But are we really considering what the family of people who are serving with these men and women think?  I get the incredible burden that the families of soldiers face, but I don’t believe the thought of serving with gay people is one of them.

This is beyond ridiculous.  Without putting a hold on discharges under DADT, this process has seemingly offered no way for closeted soldiers to safely provide input on the policy, their service, their likelihood of re-enlisting, or the impact on their families.  But it does take into consideration speculation on how family members of straight soldiers might feel.

In a statement to the press, Alexander Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United described a few of the other flaws.

“Flawed aspects of the survey include the unnecessary use of terms that are known to be inflammatory and bias-inducing in social science research, such as the clinical term ‘homosexual;’ an overwhelming focus on the potential negative aspects of repeal and little or no inclusion of the potential positive aspects of repeal or the negative aspects of the current policy; the repeated and unusual suggestion that a co-worker or leader might need to ‘discuss’ appropriate behavior and conduct with gay and lesbian troops; and more.”

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