Leading groups lobbying for repeal of
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” say the Pentagon's DADT survey is biased
against gay troops.
Alexander Nicholson, executive director
of Servicemembers United, blasted
“It is simply impossible to imagine a
survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and
insinuations going out about any other minority group in the
military,” he said.
“This expensive survey stokes the
fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the
Pentagon responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this
inevitable policy change even harder.”
The Department of Defense announced
Wednesday that 400,000 service members 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.
Nicholson pointed to a question that
asks how a service member would react if he or she needed to share
showering facilities with someone believed to be gay or lesbian
during a wartime situation.
Responses range from take no action to
discussing how service members are expected to behave in such
situations and speaking to a leader or chaplain about other options.
Nicholson said the question suggests
that gay troops need to be lectured to. Other problems, Nicholson
says, include the survey's use of the outmoded word “homosexual” to
describe gay men and lesbians, and its overwhelming focus on the
potential drawbacks of repeal.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), the nation's largest group lobbying for repeal,
warned Thursday that gay and lesbian personnel could be accidentally
outed by answering the survey, which could lead to a discharge.
“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.”
On Friday, the group stood by its
“At this time, our warning stands
that gay and lesbian service members should not take the survey
unless adequate legal protections are put in place,” Aubrey Sarvis,
executive director of SLDN, said.
Sarvis agreed that the survey appeared
“No one should be surprised if a
number of prejudices come to light in these surveys,” he said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged
service members – including gay troops – to complete the survey.
Mullen said the survey would give the
Pentagon “objective information” from the people most affected by
repeal of the law.
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. Under a
last-minute deal brokered by gay groups and Democratic leaders, the
review will continue even as Congress debates repeal of the law.