Repeal Loses Appeal Among Troops
Don't Ask. That's more than the name of the policy on homosexuals in the military, it's the unofficial motto of the report surrounding it. When the Defense Department trots out its questionable analysis of the 1993 compromise, it will include a lot of statistics. But our soldiers' opinions of repeal will not be one of them. That's because the Pentagon, despite media spin to the contrary, never asked. "How... are you going to assess the effect on morale and battle effectiveness and retention unless you consult and find out what the view of the troops is?" said a frustrated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Good question. One that FRC and Center for Security Policy (CSP) determined to answer. Last week, our organizations decided to ask the question the Pentagon didn't: do our troops support overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" In a national poll, jointly commissioned by FRC and CSP, a solid majority of 10,028 active and retired military members answered no. When asked point-blank, "Do you believe Congress should overturn the current 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy..." almost 63% of servicemen and their families said no. Their opposition was consistent across every demographic-including age (younger respondents were actually more opposed to repeal than their middle-aged counterparts), gender, and service branch (Marines were the strongest in terms of opposition to overturning the policy at 68%).
This poll is significant, because unlike almost all other surveys, it doesn't focus on the general population--but the people forced to live and work under the policy. While the American public continues to be divided on the issue, no one has taken the time or energy to survey the brave men and women in uniform.
How would you like it if your boss went outside and started polling people on the street about changing the office rules instead of talking it over with you, the employees? It's just as absurd to assume that civilians know better than the military how to accomplish the mission at hand. Secretary Robert Gates was clear at the outset (it was the first line of his memo in March!) that the Defense Department's job was to "consider how best to implement a repeal of this law"--not whether it should be repealed. As Sen. McCain pointed out, "[With] all due respect, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not directly in charge of the troops. The Secretary of Defense is a political appointee who's never been in the military. And the President, obviously, has had no background in the military whatsoever."
FRC has been skeptical of the Pentagon's survey from the very beginning, which, at a one-in-four return rate, is hardly reflective of the general military population. To read more about how the Defense Department cooked up its numbers, check out Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis's summary of the obvious bias in the review process. For more on FRC and CSP's groundbreaking data, click here for the final report. When you're finished, send a note to your Senators and urge them to hold their fire on a repeal until they've held comprehensive hearings on the survey and its shortcomings. Our troops deserve it.
The Hate of the
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