Pentagon Survey Catches a Tiger by the Tail

Defense Department officials should learn a lesson from the uproar that ensued when gay activists “outed” and denounced the official survey of troops on the issue of homosexuals in the military. Jumping the gun on congressional action to repeal the 1993 law that is usually mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Pentagon is circulating a professionally prepared survey asking 400,000 active duty, reserve, and guard personnel what they think about ways that military life would change if the law is repealed.


Much to the dismay of DoD officials, the University of California-based Michael D. Palm Center posted the confidential survey on their website, setting off vehement protests from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) activists. Together with liberal media, they blasted the survey for even asking what military people think about an important issue that is still open for discussion and debate in Congress.

One critic accused the Defense Department of setting a “dangerous precedent,” implying that it should disregard the opinions of people with the most at stake in this debate. Actually, in 1992 the Roper Organization surveyed the troops on another controversial issue, women in combat. Roper worked in consultation with the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, on which I served, with full support from the Department of Defense.

The presidential commission confirmed that President Harry Truman signed his laudable 1948 Executive Order ending racial segregation in the armed forces for two reasons, the first being military necessity. The armed forces needed good soldiers, including racial minorities who were segregated by irrational prejudice. The Truman order also advanced equal opportunity, but that purpose was secondary.

In contrast, President Barack Obama is assigning higher priority to equal opportunity for sexual minorities at the expense of military necessity. He is pressuring the armed forces to pay the price for delivery on his campaign promise to activist groups who want to impose an “LGBT Law” on the military. This is about politics, not principle.

During Senate Armed Services Committee testimony on February 2, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said,We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly.” Gates did not suggest that the proposed new policy would improve the All-Volunteer Force. Instead, he established a Pentagon “Working Group” to find ways to “minimize disruption” and to “mitigate and manage any negative impacts” should Congress repeal the law.

The Working Group has been hyper-sensitive to LGBT activists, making unusual efforts to survey homosexual personnel who, under the terms of Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C., are not even eligible for military service. Nevertheless, at a July 9 Pentagon briefing a reporter tossed a loaded “h-bomb” at spokesman Geoff Morrell, asking whether inquiries about close quarters and showers were “homophobic by nature.”

Since this issue involves sexual feelings and attitudes, the premise of the question falls apart when gender is substituted for race. Women who do not want to expose themselves to men to whom they are not married are not “manophobic.”

Male security personnel at airports do not pat-down female travelers, and public recreation centers have locker rooms that separate men and boys from women and girls. Such policies are not an affront to men or boys–they respect the normal human desire for modesty and privacy in sexual matters. Surely our military men and women deserve even more consideration than people who use airports and recreation centers.

Let’s get real. None of the LGBT groups would tolerate separate living facilities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender personnel. As CBS News reported, this is not a realistic option, particularly in submarines and deployed infantry battalions where privacy is non-existent. In a March report, the Center for American Progress recommended that authorities should “Signal clearly that the military will not segregate housing, showering, and other common-use facilities based on sexual orientation.” (p. 5)

Another reporter asked spokesman Morrell about charges that the survey’s use of the word “homosexual” is “inherently biased.” Morrell correctly labeled this “nonsense.” The words “homosexual,” “homosexual conduct” or “homosexuality” appear eleven times in the current law, and “bisexual” appears twice. The current survey, like the 1993 law, states that “homosexual” means “gay and lesbian.”

Transgender issues were not prominent in 1993, but they are now. In 2009 and 2010, President Barack Obama proclaimed June “LGBT Equality” month, with the “T” meaning transgender. On April 20 a former Navy man demonstrating against the law handcuffed himself to the White House gate dressed as a Navy woman (photo above with other LGBT protesters). Are military people ready for transgendered individuals in close quarters and family housing? If this is such a good idea, the survey should have asked a question about it.

The polling instrument also lacks questions seeking opinions on retention or repeal of the current law. This unfortunate omission signals that the Obama administration has taken sides against the stated opinions of the four chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. LGBT activists pitched fits anyway. Just imagine the endless turmoil if their radical ideology becomes official policy with “zero tolerance” of dissent. Congress needs to slow this runaway train–the Pentagon doesn’t know where it’s going.


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