A gay group lobbying for repeal of
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is demanding the government refund the
cost of a survey it claims is biased against gay troops.
The group Servicemembers United, which
lobbies for repeal of the law that forbids gay troops from serving
openly, said the survey was “laced with bias, inaccuracies and
derogatory assumptions and insinuations about gay and lesbian
Americans” in launching its online campaign demanding the research
firm Westat and the Pentagon repay the American taxpayer the survey's
$4.4 million cost.
has launched a website at SurveyRefund.org that asks people to
sign a petition demanding a refund of the survey.
“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,” Alexander Nicholson,
executive director of Servicemembers United, said on the group's
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell
rejected the claims of bias in a call with reporters two weeks ago.
“Absolutely, unequivocally, I reject
[the accusations of bias] as nonsense,” Morrell said.
The Department of Defense is recruiting
400,000 service members to answer 103 questions related to the
policy, including how heterosexual members would react in various
social situations if gay troops were visible.
Gay groups have panned the survey as
biased against gay troops. They point to questions that ask service
members how they would feel about sharing bathing facilities and
living quarters with gay troops, 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.
“We think it would be irresponsible
to conduct a survey that didn't address these kinds of [social]
questions,” Morrell said.
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.