July 15, 2010 | by Kevin Naff
Pentagon troop survey is outrageous, offensive

The text of the Pentagon’s survey soliciting service members’ views about fighting alongside suspected “homosexuals” is finally out and it couldn’t be more offensive.

Replace each reference to “homosexuals” with “African Americans” and you see just how intolerable this exercise would be for any other minority group.

“If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are working with a Service member in your immediate unit who is African American, how, if at all, would your level of morale be affected?”

“Have you shared a room, berth or field tent with a Service member who is African American?”

“Have you been assigned to share bath facilities with an open bay shower that is also used by a Service member who is African American?”

You get the idea. The survey focuses on the same tired stereotypes and fears of encountering gays in the shower that Sam Nunn exploited in 1993. So much for change.

The notion that service members are brave enough to staff remote, dangerous outposts in Afghanistan or invade countries and topple their governments, but would be uncomfortable knowing that a colleague was living on base with a same-sex partner is so outrageous that it’s surreal. And what if our fragile, immature service members decide they can’t possibly work in a unit with an openly gay person? Do we rethink repeal entirely? Or maybe allow the gays to serve in a segregated unit?

Is this survey a trend in the modern armed forces? Next, let’s poll everyone regarding future operations. “Which country should the U.S. invade next? A. Iran B. North Korea C. Pakistan D. All of the above.”

The sloppy and offensive manner in which the administration has handled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” offers proof positive that the military constitutes our fourth branch of government. A true commander in chief would push Congress to make the change he promised during the campaign, sign it into law, demand that everyone obey the new rules or resign and then move on. Instead, this has turned into a PR nightmare, with military chiefs publicly disagreeing with the president while gay activists chain themselves to the White House gates. And while the White House and the Pentagon fiddle, LGBT service members continue to
be discharged.

And no doubt we are in for more insults from the administration, as the Justice Department prepares to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, one section of which a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional this week. Candidate Obama vowed to repeal all of DOMA, something that set him apart from Hillary Clinton, who only wanted to repeal section three. President Obama now has a chance to demonstrate just how serious he was about that pledge. If, as expected, the government appeals, the legal arguments and language used will be important to watch.

Obama’s Justice Department has an unfortunate record of filing briefs filled with homophobic language in defense of laws the president himself has vowed to fight to overturn. The DOMA ruling in Massachusetts gives the president another chance to do the right thing. But it’s an election year and his administration’s failure to aggressively fight the decision would give anti-gay Republicans some timely ammunition.

If the administration’s handling of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is any indication, we can expect a spirited defense of DOMA, another law Obama has characterized as discriminatory.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

9 Comments
  • BRAVO! DOD now = “fourth branch of government” nails it exactly…WITH veto power over the other three. As SLDN Director Aubrey Sarvis told “Politico” after the White House meetings in which President Obama forced our allies in Congress to trash the five-year old Military Readiness Enhancement Act…that Candidate Obama vowed to personally fight for and would have GUARANTEED an end to discharges unlike the substituted amendment:

    “‘At the end of the day, extraordinary power was given’ to the Pentagon.”

    Here, the main difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is that Clinton came into office genuinely intending to end the ban and then caved to Pentagon bigots, while Obama came into office already having caved to Pentagon bigots.

    Let’s recap:

    “As president, I will work with Congress and place the weight of my administration behind enactment of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which will make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military.” – Barack Obama, job application, November 29, 2007.

    “Equality is a moral imperative. … I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. … I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership.” – Barack Obama, job application, February 28, 2008.

  • Is this news or an op-ed piece? It feels like the latter, and should be labeled as such. I don’t think I disagree with the sentiment, but opinion should be labeled as such.

  • There sshould be only one question on the survey.

    You are in Afghanistan mountains, in a hole. The enemy is around you.

    Now, would you rather have a gay man in that hole in the ground with you, watching your back, or being on guard while you get some sleep.

    Or would you rather have no one in that hole with you?

  • There was no survey of white personnel in reference to allowing blacks into the military.

    So based upon that fact, and the Federal Court ruling on Thursday determining once again that Gays are indeed a Suspect Class, I would definitely say that the very act of conducting a “Gay Survey” by the Federal Government is in violation of the equal protection principles in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    Judge Tauro wrote “[T]he Constitution ‘neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.’”83

    Of course this is in reference to DOMA not DADT.

    Still it behooves me that this survey collects data, or rather opinion based upon emotion and individual values, as to the inclusion of a particular Class of people, instead of gathering real data respective to the Actual Performance of said Class.

    Is this a rational approach to the defense of our nation? “How’s it gonna make you feel if you have to be in a foxhole with a nigger?” was a question once asked of service members by Army Commanders; a fact conveyed to me by my grandfather.

    We are a Class being treated by the Federal Government distinctly differently and because of irrational ideology.

  • “A survey? Uhh, duhh, well, uh, I MIGHT wet my pants, if I find out someone in my unit is gay! Uh, I’d go AWOL, yea, that’s what I’d do. And what about THAT dude?! He’s not gay?? I swear I always knew he was a f**… hmm, and THAT chick is just so— manly, I just KNEW she wuz a dy*e – what? she’s married with kids? oh… well, at least the Army values my opinion when it comes to cleaning out our military. I mean, don’t get me STARTED about the oriental dudes, and where is THAT chick from, she doesn’t even look… human! Praise god there are at least some christian white people manning my gunpost, and I mean MAN-ing, jesus…” -signed, A Concerned Patriot Armed With A Survey

  • Peter the saint

    oh.my.god. THIS is what you wanted us and everyone to have patience to wait for, and listen to?! …and give weight to? …have reverence for?! obama! tates! mullen! fc*k you! how dare you treat us like this! This country is STILL being run by insecure a**holes… who just “happen” to be men!

  • Peter the saint

    Gates: you actually allowed this derogatory, defamatory cr*p to go out? In fact, you told them to DOUBLE the number of surveys sent, to 400,000?? You need to resign. You do not need to be promoted, YOU NEED TO RESIGN. I don’t ever want to hear your name again, you make me sick. Our “friend” in the Pentagon?? Yeah, right, what a swell guy, really watching out for the troops, keeping them safe from us marauding homosexual gangs. We have obviously been inhabiting your nightmares and dreams. Wake up… and then resign…

  • WAKE UP Gay Community!!!! What else does BO has to do to us. We have gotten nothing OF SUBSTANCE from him or his administration. I’m not voting for him again — send him and his tokenism back to Chicago. We are so dumb as a community to have believed him. At least with Bush (2) we knew where we stood and could organize appropriately. BO has just wasted precious time and opportunities. This president had a clear electoral mandate and both the House and Senate. He didn’t do anything b/c he didn’t want to do anything.

  • I submitted this poem that I wrote a few months ago, and would like to submit it again, as it says it all. Lets STOP the bigotry, homophobia, and let’s fight the wars and end the turmoil in the world. What was the phrase we used in the early 1970′s “make love not war”, but do the love making part on YOUR time, in privacy and away from military duties. End Bigotry!

    I Served Beside You

    Remember when you reported to the induction center,
    I sat beside you.
    When the doctor said “bend over,”
    I bent beside you.
    When you drew your uniforms,
    I drew mine beside you.
    When you took your shower in an 8-head open shower room,
    I was at the next shower head beside you.
    When you went to the rifle/grenade ranges,
    I was in a prone position beside you.
    When you were teamed up on bivouac for two-man tents,
    and were told to sleep head to toe,
    You were “6” and I was “9”.
    When you went to Nam (or other wars),
    I sat beside you.
    When you talked about girlfriend(s) or wives,
    I listened.
    When you went to war again,
    I was beside you.
    Wherever you served in the world
    I served proudly and with dignity beside you.
    When you stood in formation to receive the Bronze Star,
    I got mine beside you.
    When you got your second Good Conduct Medal,
    I got my third.
    When you were laid to rest at Arlington,
    I was laid next to you.*
    When you wondered what our differences were,
    You didn’t ask then – I didn’t tell.
    But you are straight and I am not.
    You didn’t care then – why care now?
    Written by A Gay former senior NCO

    * This is the only line of my poem that I actually have not done – yet. I am still alive, but how many thousands of my Gay brothers and Lesbian sisters are laying at Arlington?

    For years White men, women, and Black soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines were forced to live in segregated barracks – now they are all live in harmony in the same building, only separated by “gender”. All of those years have had Gays and Lesbians living, sleeping, showering and eating right beside everyone else. No one asked then – why now? Gays and Lesbians have served in the militaries for centuries. Gays and Lesbians have served proudly, honorably, at all ranks, highly decorated, some were/are actually war heroes. Some of those Gays and Lesbians were and still are more professional than their straight counterparts. Why stop now? Another problem people are worried about is harassment and fraternization; that has been going on, again for centuries, with straight people being the primary perpetrators. How many of those straight people were kicked out for heterosexual harassment of heterosexual’s?

    As Adm. Mullen testified that he has served with people he knew were gay – and served proudly with them, as they were some times better soldiers than straight soldiers were. With the dignified, decorated, and proud prior service of millions of Gay and Lesbians, who needs a “review” or “study” of allowing “American” people to serve openly in the military. You don’t question every military person if they are straight do you? My vote is cut the crap, save the money and time from the “review,” totally destroy the ban and concentrate on ending the wars – not who is fighting and dying in them! This is the year 2010, NOT 1810 or 1910. What are you waiting for?

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