"Sunday [August 15, 2010] was the deadline for troops to complete the Defense Department's 'don't ask, don't tell' attitudes survey, and officials at the Pentagon said the final tally on completed responses was 109,883 -- a response rate of only about 27.5 percent.
That's below the 30 to 40 percent response rate researchers from the University of Texas at Austin say an average email or online surveys should pull in, and well below the 52 percent participation rate officials at the Office of Personnel Management got in their similarly-structured 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
The Pentagon's survey was designed to help military leaders 'assess the impacts, if any, repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' might have on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention,' according to Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.
But from the start gay rights groups objected to the methodology and execution of the survey, and encouraged their supporters not to take part, which may have played a role in driving down the response rate.
Results from the survey -- including data on how many troops might feel uncomfortable working alongside an openly-gay colleague and how many may refuse to re-enlist if the law is repealed -- won't be released publicly until December, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to unveil plans to help ease the transition to a post-repeal force.
Meanwhile, later this month the Pentagon plans on mailing out another 150,000 surveys to military spouses (70,000 active duty spouses, 80,000 reservist spouses) asking their feelings on a 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal. That survey will be due back in late September."
"The Pentagon has sent out the second part to its military survey on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", this time to approximately 150,000 military spouses, and it shows much of the same insensitivity that the first survey did."
“The Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will meet with a group of lesbian and gay military partners, Servicemembers United reports. The meeting will take place in conjunction with Servicemembers United's Military Partners Forum on September 16, 2010.
‘The meeting will be a first of its kind for both the Pentagon and for the military partner community. The Campaign for Military Partners was launched by Servicemembers United in 2009 to reach out to, recognize, connect, and support the partners of LGBT military personnel. The online hub for this initiative, www.MilitaryPartners.org, was launched in the spring of 2010. Servicemembers United will be hosting the first ever Military Partners Forum in Washington, DC on September 16, 2010 in conjunction with its fall ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ Lobby Day.”
"The survey, part of what the military says is its effort to prepare for the possible integration of gays and lesbians into the armed forces, provoked immediate criticism from some human rights groups, which called the survey biased and apt to fan fears of gays in the military.
The unauthorized public disclosure of the $4.5 million survey and the fierce reaction to it also prompted the Pentagon to worry that the fallout could skew the results of the poll.
... The Pentagon had tried to keep the survey questions a secret, saying that public disclosure could influence the outcome of the polling, which is scheduled to continue until Aug. 15.
... Several gay rights groups, however, said the survey was biased. In particular, they said the wording of the questions reinforced prejudices and fanned fears that troops would be forced to bathe, room or socialize with gays and lesbians.
Servicemembers United, the nation's largest group of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, said the survey includes ‘derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations.’
‘The Defense Department just shot itself in the foot by releasing such a flawed survey to 400,000 servicemembers, and it did so at an outrageous cost to taxpayers,’ said Alexander Nicholson, the group's executive director.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonpartisan legal services group providing counsel to troops discharged under the policy, said the survey's design could yield skewed results.
‘Surveying the troops is unprecedented; it did not happen in 1948 when President Truman ended segregation, and it did not happen in 1976 when the service academies opened to women,’ SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said. ‘Even when the military placed women on ships at sea, the Pentagon did not turn to a survey on how to bring about that cultural change.’
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation's largest gay rights groups, provided tepid support for the survey.
‘While surveying the troops on an issue like this is problematic from the start and the questions exhibit clear bias, the fact remains that this study exists,’ said HRC spokesman Michael Cole. ‘We urge the department to analyze the results with an understanding of the inherent bias in the questions and use it as a tool to implement open service quickly and smoothly.’"
In your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a subordinate you believed to be homosexual?
"Why ask military spouses about 'don't ask, don't tell'?
“I got angry reading the Aug. 24 news story 'Pentagon surveys military spouses on 'don't ask, don't tell''. I was reminded that the Pentagon simply meant to collect information to better educate troops and family members when the unjust ban is lifted. So why was I still so infuriated reading the survey questions?
As a test, I replaced the words ‘gay and lesbian’ with ‘black and Latino.’ ‘If a black or Latino Service member lived in your neighborhood . . . would you stay on-base or would you try to move out?’ And, ‘Would the attendance of a black or Latino Service member . . . affect how often you attend these types of military social events?’
These questions would never be asked because they serve to legitimize ignorance and prejudice. If I asked these questions -- for any reason -- in the discharge of my responsibilities as chairman of the Arlington County Board, I would rightly be rebuked.
Did Harry Truman ask similar questions as he allowed black men to serve equally in the U.S. military? No, he simply did the right thing, and so should we.”
-- Jay Fisette, Arlington
"The Justice Department is studying the decision, including the question of its scope and immediate effect and we expect them to announce their next steps after that review is completed. The President remains committed to legislative repeal of DADT, and he will continue to work with lawmakers to achieve that goal this fall. And he will continue to work closely with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an ongoing study of how to best implement the repeal."
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