the don't tell show

The Pentagon Is Spending $4.4 Million to Let Someone Else Ask Gay Soldiers About DADT

Because the Pentagon isn’t granting immunity (!) to gay soldiers who want to speak up about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during their silly 10-month review, they’re spending taxpayer dollars to hire an outside firm to do the quizzing. Yup, gay soldiers are now permitted to speak freely to a hired contractor but not their own commanding officers.

Yes, that’s the world we live in under the byzantine rules of DADT.

The Pentagon is hiring Westat, “a Maryland research firm with experience surveying military communities,” to quiz some 350,000 military servicemembers and their families, which includes The Gays. It’s a comprehensive survey, where they’ll “gather the views of troops of all ranks, including officer and enlisted personnel, young and old, married and unmarried, and those serving in different types of units, from combat to medicine.” And it will cost taxpayers $4.4 million.

How does it all work? First, respondents are asked whether they know any gay people in their units; they’re then asked whether they think allowing them to serve openly would effect the unit’s ability to serve. Supposedly, because gay soldiers are speaking to an outside contractor, being honest about their sexuality doesn’t qualify as “telling.” But raise your hand if you have confidence a military contractor, or the Pentagon itself, isn’t in the business of data mining. Gay soldiers have been taught for decades to keep quiet, or else — we’re not sure how free they’ll to whisper in the ear of somebody the Pentagon is paying to collect information.

Just take a moment to think about this: Because federal legislators created a law forbidding gay soldiers from being openly about their sexuality, and these legislators are now considering killing the law, the taxpayer-funded Pentagon must now pay someone else to see whether gay soldiers want the law repealed. It’s not just a logic fail; it’s a policy fail.

The ultimate policy fail, of course, comes from the notion that servicemembers (and their families!!) should even have a say in the matter. Even if the survey results come back showing overwhelming military support for repealing DADT, the decision to repeal should be made because it’s the right thing to do ethically, and the right thing to do for national security.