The Defense Department announced
Wednesday that 400,000 servicemembers are being surveyed on its
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.
The survey is part of the military's
comprehensive review of the policy that bans gay troops from serving
openly in the military.
The review was ordered by Defense
Secretary Robert Gates and is expected to be completed by December 1.
Army General Carter F. Ham, commander of the U.S. Army Europe, and
Jen Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, head the review panel.
“The voice of the servicemembers is
still vitally important,” Ham told the military's American
Forces Press Service.
The assessment will continue even as
Congress debates whether to repeal the law. House members voted in
favor of repeal in May, while senators are expected to take up the
issue this month. The legislation, however, gives the military and
President Obama final say on the specifics of repeal.
“This is draft legislation, it is not
yet enacted into law,” Ham added, “and there are several hurdles
yet to come.”
Half of the surveys were sent to
active-duty personnel, and half were sent to reserve troops. Another
150,000 surveys will be mailed to military spouses shortly.
Participants are directed to a secure website where they are asked to
answer roughly 90 questions, including whether or not the ban should
Ham also announced an online tool that
allows gay and lesbian troops to anonymously comment on the policy.
“It is vitally important that
servicemembers continue to be open and frank and totally honest with
us in their feedback,” Ham said. “That certainly has been the
case to date, whether it's been a large-group session or a small
group or the online inbox.”