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

Senator Carl Levin 'Can Understand the Resentment in the Gay Community' About the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Troop Survey

Talking Points Memo reports that at a breakfast this morning Senator Carl Levin discussed the controversial survey sent to 400,000 troops by the Pentagon yesterday, asking them about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and said he "can understand the resentment in the gay community" over it.

Levin He also said it's important that troops understand the survey is not meant to give them "veto power" over the repeal.


Levin said during the breakfast that the surveys, which have sparked uproar in the LGBT community, are unprecedented since troops weren't asked when the military increased inclusion of women. "It's a very good idea to get the attitude of the troops on things," he said. But Levin said it's important troops do not think they have "veto power" but rather that they understand they are answering the questions to help implement the inevitable repeal of the Clinton-era policy.

"A lot depends about how the survey is worded ... [the Pentagon must] make sure they understand military leadership made a decision," he said. "[Military leaders are] asking these questions as a way to help us implement this effectively."

Levin said he hadn't yet read the survey (read the survey obtained by TPM here) and isn't yet sure it is "fair." But Levin said that he thinks the Pentagon should have asked if it's okay to discriminate against LGBT people in the first place. He said while some troops would answer they aren't comfortable showering with comrades they know to be gay or lesbian, it's unlikely many would believe their LGBT colleagues should be treated differently. He said as far as he knows, Congress was not consulted on the survey's wording.

Levin said he does not expect a filibuster of the Defense bill to which the repeal is attached, and said that any moves to strike it from the legislation would probably fail.

Yesterday, I posted a long round-up of reactions to the survey. You can read it HERE.

A short clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. IF, as Pentagon Parrot Geoff Morrell insists, the survey ISN'T homophobic then why frame gay servicemembers as childlike sex maniacs who MIGHT only be able to control themselves if the straights they might share sleeping quarters or showers with sit them down to:

    "Discuss how we expect each other to behave and conduct ourselves"?

    IF they are ABSOLUTELY not considering ANY type of segregation why ask 400,000 troops if they believe they could only succeed in combat with an ALL HETEROSEXUAL unit?

    IF they're NOT even CONSIDERING facility changes, why did Chair of the Joint Chiefs ADM Mike Mullen say to the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 2nd that:

    "even infrastructure changes to be made certainly seem plausible"?

    IF Morrell is tell the truth and it's just a matter of the Great American Shower Curtain Gap, then it is time for every gay American to show their patriotism and enlist in my campaign to PUT A CURTAIN IN EVERY SHOWER from the "Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli; we'll be there, followed by more; farewell to college joys; for where’er we go, you will always know that a shower curtain is waiting for you!"

    Share with some of OUR people some of those millions of taxpayer dollars they're spending! Nate Berkus has his own line of shower curtains! GIVE HIM THE CONTRACT and Obama First Fan Oprah could dedicate a week to "Military Makeover" shows featuring Nate. And everyone in the audience could go home with their own Nate Curtain. WIN-WIN!

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jul 13, 2010 11:45:35 AM

  2. OK, Senator, let's try this as an explanation. Let's suppose 60 years ago your family had wanted to move into a community with a restrictive covenant that excluded Jews, African Americans, maybe even Irish Catholics and Asians. Would you have thought it fair for the people deciding whether your family ought to be entitled to buy a house in the community to base their decision based upon a survey written by a racist and anti-semite and directed only to those within the community with the restrictive covenant?

    Posted by: Jonathan OZ | Jul 13, 2010 11:57:50 AM

  3. If bathroom decor is such a problem for the military then maybe you should allow gays in your military, don't ya think. If these bozos can't even design the heads properly then I shudder to think how they design a missile defense system.

    How'd that 'shock and awe' work for you?

    Posted by: Observer1000 | Jul 13, 2010 12:04:33 PM

  4. The Pentagon never conducted a survey when women were on the verge of entering the military. Of course, I'd love to read what they would have written had they chosen to circulate a survey on female integration.

    Posted by: Dan | Jul 13, 2010 12:40:46 PM

  5. Uhhh, Jonathan....Levin is not your enemy. He has been out front on this issue for the gay community. He noted that he get's that the gay community has a right to be outraged about the survey. He noted that troops weren't surveyed about women. His comment about it being good to get feedback is balanced by saying that this information gathering needs to be clear that it's not a means for derailing the change. It's very common practice when instituting a systems change to find out the baseline knowledge or attitudes of the systems participants, to both create a sense of buy in and to identify potential barriers to systems change.

    Posted by: scott x | Jul 13, 2010 5:19:25 PM

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