Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Military | News

Major 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Update: Troop Survey Reactions


A U.S. soldier from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne, has his head shaved by flashlight outside Kandahar. (via daylife)

The Defense Department's surveys of 400,000 service members on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy hit inboxes today. As Steve noted last week, some of the questions were leaked early, and were revealed to be skewed, homophobic, and altogether unsavory, dealing with issues like showers and social functions. SLDN said it was "far more skewed than we even expected it to be, given the working group's commitment to staying neutral." You can read it here (PDF).

Road The Palm Center reviewed the survey and came to this conclusion in a policy response brief:

"Our conclusion is that results of this survey should be considered during Pentagon’s decision-making process, but should not be seen as determinative in and of themselves. The military is unique and unlike civilian government agencies or corporations. As such, its internal processes, while daunting, also allow for exceptional results. We believe that the services can smoothly implement the transition to a fully inclusive “open service” policy in 2011 in a manner that serves as an example to foreign militaries around the world."

Read their full brief HERE (PDF).

Road Nate Silver of analyzed the survey and came to the conclusion that "parts of it are completely useless."

Why? Two of his reasons are that "given that the army that isn't supposed to have any (openly) gay soldiers, the survey asks the troops to engage in an awful lot of speculation about the gay soldiers in their midst" and "it more measures the relationship between gossip and unit morale than anything having to do with homosexuality per se. Although this might be modestly interesting as a sociological experiment, any conclusions that it purports to come to about the impact of DADT on morale should be ignored."

Read Nate's full analysis HERE.

Road Servicemembers United wants the Pentagon and Westat (the pollster) to refund American taxpayers the $4.4 million it cost for the survey. There's a petition.

Road Americablog notes that the survey shows that the Pentagon is seriously considering possible segregation of troops:  Segregation, folks. Separate but equal. In the year 2010. And from a black president, no less.

Transcription of Geoff Morrell news conference: "We think it would be irresponsible to conduct a survey that didn’t try to address these types of things. Because when DADT is repealed, we will have to determine if there are any challenges in those particular areas, any adjustments that need to be made in terms of how we educate the force to handle those situations, or perhaps even facility adjustments that need to be made to deal with those scenarios."

The Pentagon today denied Americablog's claim. Morrell: "No one is talking about segregating gay servicemembers from straight servicemembers. We don't know that any adjustment will have to be made, but in the event that's a recommendation from the review group, it would not result in any 'separate but equal' facilities."

Road TIME magazine wonders why we are polling the troops:

"For generations, the military mind-set has been, If we want you to have an opinion, we'll issue you one. So why is the Pentagon asking troops how they'll feel if forced to serve alongside openly gay comrades? 'This is a very dangerous precedent,' says Lawrence Korb, who ran the Pentagon's personnel office during the Reagan Administration. "It gives the troops the feeling that they have a veto over what the top people want." Not everyone agrees. 'What matters is the morale of the force in the field,' says Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer and military scholar. 'The survey is an honest attempt to suss out what the effects on morale might be.'"

Road Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly follows up on the July 9 news conference with Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, posting the full answers to questions about polling sample size, assessment of the survey, and who came up with the questions.

Road Former Senator Sam Nunn, who was partially responsible for the institution of DADT back in 1993, appeared to offer support for lifting it in a recent phone interview, saying, "“If they can mitigate the damage and make sure the military can properly administer (the repeal) in a fair way, but in a way that protects unit cohesion and the morale of our forces, then I would favor making whatever changes are necessary."

Road Rob Smith, a gay Iraq war veteran, mocks the survey:

"The way some of the survey questions are structured is enough to make one think that its creators are as obsessed with gay sexuality as those who practice it regularly. In fact, the survey really hit the nail on the head with the whole shower thing. I wasn't able to shower for the first three weeks of my tour in Iraq, and what do you think I was looking forward to the most when I finally got the opportunity to take one? Was it perhaps the opportunity to remove the thick film of gruel that encased my skin no matter how many times I wiped myself down with the wet naps provided with our meals? If you thought that, you were wrong. It was obviously the opportunity to sneak a peek at other soldiers in the showers, soldiers who were equally if not more as disgusting as me at that point. Sexy, right? I sure thought so, but imagine my SHOCK that there were private showers! In Iraq! It was almost enough to make me want to give my two weeks' notice right then and there."


Lt. Dan Choi appeared on MSNBC today and called the survey "heinous".

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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    Posted by: Doug Shingleton | Jul 12, 2010 7:42:44 PM

  2. I urge everyone to read this survey. I was inclined to believe that the military was trying to HELP gay soldiers to integrate successfully as openly gay soldiers. I was wrong.

    The survey is 100% bullshit. Now that I have seen it, I am STUNNED. This survey serves NO purpose and could conceivably be used to justify reversing their plans to end DADT. The entire US military should hang its head in shame at this sick, poor excuse of a survey. It can only screw us, not help us.

    Posted by: hephaestion | Jul 12, 2010 7:46:32 PM

  3. This survey should put to rest any questions as to why the military stumbles from one fiasco to another.

    So let's see - the results come back and the troops are afraid of the homos:

    1. So the troops are afraid of showering with perceived homosexuals but the generals have no hesitation sending them into a hostile desert, jungle or city. That'll sure work.

    2. It'll do wonders to unit cohesion when the minority servicemen and woman officially find out how intolerant their colleagues are.

    3. There may not have been a war against Islam but it'll sure look like one once so-called christian doctrine is codified as a result of the survey.

    The best thing the geniuses in the Pentagon can hope for is that their ranks have more common sense and decency towards their fellow man than they do. But then as the Propositions Infinities have shown, that's wishful thinking in America.

    Posted by: Observer1000 | Jul 12, 2010 8:18:27 PM

  4. If you replaced any of the following in the place of "homosexual, gay or lesbian" - White, Black or African-American, Native-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian-American, Asian-Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or other Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Guamanian, Chamorro or other Pacific Islander - and did the survey, you know those communities would be up in arms about racism. It is an offensive survey, which should never have happened. The Commander-in-Chief makes the decision and it is final. When Truman desegregated the troops, he didn't ask permission from his underlings, he told them to implement it...period!

    I do have to say, I expected this from Obama, which is why originally I voted for Hillary. If people had done their homework, they would have found that Obama is indecisive. As a former Chicagoan, I knew this. On many bills, in the Illinois state legislature, he voted "present" vice aye or nay. In a 1996 questionnaire filled out for a Chicago gay and lesbian newspaper, then called Outlines, Obama stated he was FOR Gay marriage (to get the gay vote?)...see pic attached (line item #6) on link below.....

    Posted by: CB | Jul 12, 2010 8:43:27 PM

  5. On the lighter side of things, The Onion just posted a new satirical article on the DADT debate. Given the nature of some of the survey questions, it seems particularly spot on.,17698/

    Posted by: David | Jul 12, 2010 9:11:44 PM

  6. Why Why Why?!?...If you're gay and in the military...COME OUT! I'm sure theres enough of you to make a dent in the system...Gay men can be such cowards. If everyone came out of the closet this stuff WOULDn'T be an issue....just sayin'

    Posted by: wonderer | Jul 12, 2010 9:26:26 PM

  7. Nate Silver is spot on when he explains why it is that more soldiers who are in unhappy and disgruntled units will more often suspect there are gays in the unit when in fact there are none and therefore skew the results of the survey in a negative direction. Be sure to read his blog post.

    Posted by: Boxerdad | Jul 12, 2010 9:56:14 PM

  8. The survey might help us. The young generation of soldiers probably are more accepting of us. And if the survey turns out positive for us, it'll be harder for the brass to keep dodt.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Jul 12, 2010 11:30:06 PM

  9. The soldiers who are unhappy and disgruntled because of suspected homosexual servicemen in their unit will also more likely beat their spouses and girlfriends. So interesting, isn't it? So relevant.

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 12, 2010 11:30:42 PM

  10. Oh...sorry. FUCK YOU, WILBERFORCE. FUCK YOU WITH A GODDAMN KNIFE, HARD. You who defends christofascism at every turn. You, who is a self loathing homosexual traitor. FUCK YOU. This is not helpful, and even if it turned out to be less than the majority, if even 1% of servicemembers were homophobic as per the results, the right would play it up as if it were 100%. Moreso, it doesn't matter what they think (or what you think--because you don't, cunt!); DADT needs to be repealed regardless of what they think. FUCK YOU, WILBERFORCE. Just die, already.

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 12, 2010 11:37:25 PM

  11. Did people really expect anything else from the survey? I would like to hear from someone who has actually had experience working with surveys to tell me what they should have done. While I think it's complete BS that it exists in the first place, I feel like there's not really much else they could've done differently. The questions about the showers, in my opinion, are legitimate. Not in that they display how gays operate, but how prevalent homophobia really is in the military. It's possible that they question was included to see if that's what people actually thought about. I can see the inherent homophobia in the survey, but you shouldn't let that blind you from looking at it from another angle. Also like Wilberforce said, there's a good chance the soldiers taking the survey will have a positive outlook and make it that much easier to repeal DADT. From what I've read most soldiers really don't have much of a problem with gays. Having said all this, let the flaming begin.

    Oh and Wonderer, saying, "...just sayin'" doesn't make you any less of an asshole for calling service members cowards.

    Posted by: Matt McD | Jul 13, 2010 12:37:07 AM

  12. MATT MCD, if you really want to know what is wrong with the survey, then read some of the other excellent posts about it on other web sites.

    But, one of the major problems with it was the constant use of the word "homosexual" instead of gay or lesbian throughout the questions. Recent polls have shown that when questions are asked using the term homosexual to replace gay or lesbian, the negative responses increase quite a bit. The word homosexual just instantly puts people into a negative state of mind.

    Posted by: Tim | Jul 13, 2010 1:48:42 AM

  13. Here's what I don't understand. If the military is asking personnel, "Do you currently serve with a male or female Service member you believe to be homosexual", isn't that in itself a violation of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Isn't that 'asking'?

    Posted by: Andrew W | Jul 13, 2010 10:54:37 AM

  14. The survey is designed to slow the whole repeal process down to push it past the next election.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 13, 2010 12:31:37 PM

  15. I have read the .pdf survey. Questions on the order of 'Have you ever worked with someone who is gay?' are very dangerous. They could be easily used as the basis of hunting down gays & lesbians in the service should the policy not pass. Were I in the military and straight I would not answer honestly to avoid being put in jeopardy.

    Any legitimate testing/survey expert would immediately dismiss any results as worthless--at best underestimates of solder's acceptance of G&Ls in the service. The survey is pointless--as a survey.

    Posted by: Brian | Jul 13, 2010 12:44:51 PM

  16. "In a 1996 questionnaire filled out for a Chicago gay and lesbian newspaper, then called Outlines, Obama stated he was FOR Gay marriage (to get the gay vote?)..."

    In his state Senate District in Hyde Park? There's not a whole lot of gay votes over there to get (liberal votes, votes, no.)

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jul 13, 2010 2:13:00 PM

  17. What more this so-called "survey" cost $4.4 MILLION!!!! Go to and sign an online petition for your tax dollars back!!!

    Posted by: Dino | Jul 13, 2010 6:30:06 PM

  18. Opps its, sorry!

    Posted by: Dino | Jul 13, 2010 6:30:55 PM

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