data dump

Pentagon Survey: Most Troops Know They’ve Served With Gays. And Most Of Those Troops Had No Problem

(UPDATE: It’s here!) Though the Pentagon won’t release the final report until later this afternoon (right here), the results go something like this: “According to a survey sent to 400,000 service members, 69 percent of those responding reported that they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit’s ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the sources. Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians. At the same time, the report found that 30 percent of those surveyed overall — and between 40 and 60 percent of the Marine Corps — either expressed concern or predicted a negative reaction if Congress were to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military on the condition that they keep their sexuality a secret.”

Speaking today at a press conference, Adm. Mike Mullen says “the data is very compelling” to show a repeal will not negatively affect the military. Adds Sec. Gates: “One of the things that’s very important to me is personal integrity, and a policy and a law that in effect requires people to lie gives me a problem … A policy that requires people to lie about themselves somehow seems to me fundamentally flawed.” Gates also adds there will be “no separate facilities” for gay and lesbian troops, and that he believes the Pentagon should offer housing and spousal benefits for gay troops.

Army Gen. Carter Ham says he expects short-term reactions to gays serving openly once DADT is repealed, but over time it will become a non-issue.

Jeh Johnson notes the results of the spousal survey matched the results of troops, with some 74 percent saying repeal would have no effect on whether their partners stayed in the military. Johnson addressed troops’ religious objections to homosexuality, saying soldiers would not be required to change their beliefs, but would certainly be expected to respect their comrades — something that’s already a given. He also addressed concerns, raised by folks like the Family Research Council, that repealing the law means the gays are gonna start fucking everything in sight, even breeders!, but noted existing regulations already cover that behavior. Johnson also notes the report concludes there should be no separate facilities for gay troops, but that officers should retain the right to handle individual cases of discomfort among troops. Troops kicked out of the military, or who left because they were forced to lie, should be able to re-join the military pursuant to standard criteria.

What about soldiers who just can’t get through the day knowing there are openly gay people right next to them?! Their commanding officers have the power, but are not to use it as a first response, to discharge these bigots, says Ham. (NB: I don’t have Ham’s exact quote, and I’m working to re-confirm I correctly relayed what he meant.) Update: Yep, that’s what Ham meant. His quote: “We do not believe and we do not recommend that a servicemember simply by stating, you know, I — homosexuality is contrary to my beliefs or my religious views or what have you, should — that person should then be eligible for separation. But, having said that, there — if the servicemember is unable to reconcile his or herself and their conduct and they become disruptive in the force, leaders, commanders have a full range of authority that could ultimately lead to that servicemember being separated. We don’t believe that should be the first course of action, but that remedy is available today under current authorities.”

As for gay soldiers who feels threatened by bigoted comrades? Johnson says a “well founded fear for … physical safety” is certainly a problem, but does not have a blanket response for how to handle such a situation, such as an automatic transfer. Adds Ham: Military officials “know how to deal with” any soldier who violently attacks another, for sexuality or otherwise; “it is criminal behavior and we have means for dealing with it.”

The general conclusion reached by all four men: There is no good reason to keep DADT. It would be good for the military to kill the law. But their plan to implement a post-repeal plan requires lawmakers to immediately act to repeal the law.