The nation's largest group lobbying for
repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is advising gay troops not to
answer a Pentagon survey on the policy.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN) warned Thursday that gay and lesbian personnel could
be accidentally outed by answering the survey, which could lead to a
“There is no guarantee of privacy,”
the group said, “and [the] DoD has not agreed to provide immunity
to service members whose privacy may be inadvertently violated or who
inadvertently outs himself or herself.”
The Department of Defense announced
Wednesday that 400,000 servicemembers will receive the survey that
directs participants to a secure website where they are asked to
answer roughly 90 questions, including whether or not the policy that
bans openly gay service should be lifted.
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 before the end of
The survey is part of the military's
comprehensive review of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the law approved
by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
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.
Under a deal brokered between gay
rights groups and lawmakers, the assessment will continue even as
Congress debates whether to repeal the law. Republicans have voiced
concern over repealing the law before the review is complete. House
members voted in favor of repeal in May, while senators are expected
to take up the issue this month. The legislation – under the terms
of the deal – gives the military and President Barack Obama final
say on the specifics of repeal and would not be implemented until
after the military completes its review.
In announcing the Pentagon had begun
surveying troops on the policy, Ham said it is “vitally important
that servicemembers continue to be open and frank and totally honest
with us in their feedback.”
But SLDN Executive Director Aubrey
Sarvis cautioned gay troops on completing the survey, saying they
should “only do so in a manner that does not reveal sexual