New Gays-in-Military Law Ignores DoD Survey of Combat Troops


by Elaine Donnelly

January 25, 2011-Last month, the United States Senate voted for legislation that will impose heavy, unnecessary burdens on the backs of military men and women.  They are the ones who will pay a very high price for Congress’ reckless decision to repeal the law making homosexuals ineligible for military service.  The majority of troops did not indicate that they supported repeal of the 1993 law, which is always mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  That was impossible, because the question pointedly was not asked in the Department of Defense survey instruments.  

The administration has tried to have it both ways—claiming that the DoD survey was not intended to be a “referendum” of the troops, while simultaneously allowing media reports to claim that it was.  The truth is that military personnel and families who support the current law were not given an equal opportunity to have their views respected and reported.  None of the survey instruments included the basic question of interest to members of Congress: Should the 1993 law be retained or repealed? 

Instead, the troops were limited to suggesting remedies for irresolvable problems that could be avoided by simply retaining the 1993 law.  Despite that constraint, which was deliberately imposed in focus group discussions, the Defense Department Working Group Report conceded on p. 49, “…[O]ur sense is that the majority of views expressed were against repeal of the current policy.”

Page 74 of the report also indicated that “Nearly 60% of respondents in the Marine Corps and in Army combat arms said they believed there would be a negative impact on their unit’s effectiveness in this context; among Marine combat arms the number was 67%.” 

Given these beliefs in negative consequences, it is not surprising that close combat troops said they were more inclined to leave the service if Congress voted to repeal the 1993 law.  Cross-tabbed data displayed on the 2010 DADT Survey website indicate that among Army combat arms personnel, 21.4% would leave sooner than planned, and 14.6% would think about leaving--a total potential loss of more than a third (36%) of those valuable troops.  (DADT Survey Appendix J , p. 53) 

Marine combat arms would be weakened even more, with 32% of Marines saying they would leave sooner than planned, and 16.2% considering an early end to their careers, totaling almost half.  (DADT Survey Appendix L , p. 47)  The gradual loss of so many combat troops and what the report described as “only 12%” of families likely to decline re-enlistment could put remaining troops in greater danger, and break the All-Volunteer Force.  (CRWG Report, p. 4) 

Such findings should make it impossible for President Barack Obama , Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen to “certify” that no harm will be done by implementation of their own plans for repeal.  The president’s political promise to LGBT Left groups has been assigned highest priority, at the expense of Army and Marine combat troops whose voices were heard but ignored.  

The Defense Department question about personal or work relationships with persons known to be gay is usually cited to create the misimpression that the troops “wouldn’t care” if the law were repealed.  Most people know and like persons who are gay among friends, colleagues, or family.  The innocuous question about personal relationships, however, did not ask respondents the key question: Should the law be repealed or retained.  An analysis of that question done by the Family Research Council provides more details on that question.

As the House Armed Services Committee prepares to examine this issue in upcoming hearings (hearings that House Democrats denied due to the reckless rush to repeal the law during the lame-duck session), all of the military service chiefs should be asked to describe a single benefit to the military that final repeal would bring.  Neither the Defense Department report nor Secretary Gates or Admiral Mullen have yet to mention a single result of repeal that would improve the All-Volunteer Force in any way.