irrelevant data

The Audacity of the U.S. Military to Ask Straight Soldiers’ Families About Repealing DADT

From the Pentagon saying it’s going to poll the families of military personnel about their thoughts on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to actually holding a forum to invite ostensibly straight soldiers’ feedback on a repeal, the military is making clear its strategy on repealing the discriminatory policy: let’s have everyone weigh in and see what they think and make this a democratic decision! The premise is certainly a bizarre one, since military leaders don’t have much of a history asking what subordinates — or their husbands and wives — think about their policy making.

“I truly wish I could have been there” writes the blogger Just-A-Joe, the gay soldier serving his second tour in Iraq, who we interviewed. “How is it that we can have a forum to discuss the implications of repealing a policy which affects a specific sector of the population and exclude that sector? I know for a fact that there were gay or lesbian service members in that auditorium, whom could not respond, honestly. It is quite offensive to be having these discussions. Imagine the United States Armed Forces if we had these types of discussions about all the issues we are faced. I guarantee you we would not still be in the middle east. My problem is not that the military is conducting a study, that is good. Being in the military, I understand that there is a lot of implications to the repeal of DADT. However, why is it that they need to survey straight troops about this switch? After all, Senate made it perfectly clear that this study was to be about how to implement, not if to implement repeal. What needs to be focused on is matters of personnel administration, allowances, benefits, and most importantly policy editing. Instead we are seeing the government put to use tax payers dollars to have a reaction panel on the issue.”

Did the Navy survey male soldiers when it decided to remove its ban on letting women serve on submarines? Were there focus groups assembled for white soldiers when integrating black troops was considered?

The people who are most affected by policy changes should be the ones given the most weight and consideration. Which is why gay and lesbian — not heterosexual, or those presumed to be — soldiers should be the ones able to speak to Pentagon officials about how DADT is harmful. This isn’t about making straight soldiers feel “comfortable.” It’s about letting gay soldiers serve as openly as anyone else while still maintaining the strict decorum of the military. Without the ability to speak up with immunity from a DADT dismissal, the entire investigation/research effort has been neutered and rendered considerably irrelevant.

The letter sent last month to Air Force personnel: