August 13th, 2010
06:21 PM ET
12 years ago

1/4 of 'don't ask, don't tell' surveys returned as deadline looms

Washington (CNN) - With a deadline just two days away, about one-quarter of all service members who were sent "don't ask, don't tell" surveys have returned them to the Department of Defense, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The survey seeks their opinions on the potential impact of changing the military ban on gay and lesbians serving openly in the military.

The Pentagon sent out 400,000 confidential surveys and set an August 15 deadline for their return. Spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said about 104,000 have been received.

While Smith said the 26 percent return rate was in line with what the Department of Defense was told is typical for a survey this size, officials are urging more people to return their forms. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent a letter earlier this week reminding people to do so.

"Your responses to this survey will help assess the impact of a change in the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and associated policy on military readiness, effectiveness and unit cohesion, should such a change occur," Gates wrote. "The end result: more informed decisions."

In addition to the surveys, more than 67,000 comments have been posted by military members and spouses in an online inbox. The comments are being examined by an independent contractor, Westat, which is being paid $4.5 million to conduct the reviews. That comment box will be open until August 30.

The Defense Department also set up a third-party operated, confidential system for gay and lesbian service members to express their opinions on the potential rule change. Smith said more than 2,450 currently serving troops have made submissions, with 280 "self-identifying" themselves as gay or lesbian.

That forum will be open until 8 p.m. ET Sunday.

Westat has also conducted more than 70 forums with randomly selected service members in locations around the United States and in Europe, South Korea and Japan. The forums allowed the participants to give their opinions about the impact of repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

After the initial survey deadline passes, 150,000 surveys will be mailed to randomly selected military spouses who will have until the end of September to return the forms.

All the submissions will be considered by the Gates-appointed working group, which is headed by Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, and Army Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, who have until the end of the year to provide recommendations and findings to Gates about the impact of a repeal.

Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell • Pentagon
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Charlie in Maine

    Hey some communities don't have that good a voter turnout. Rest assured anyone with a strong opinion sent theirs in.

    August 13, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. marie

    Those who think the Armed Forces is a place where everyone is a single entity they are sadly out of touch. The Armed Forces is a place unlike anything else in American life and making a sweeping change as this is only going to undermine it's purpose which is to fight wars all because we want to appease the very loud demographic Gay/Lesbian movement!!!! You will see many leave the Armed Forces and not to mention all the Social problems that will go with it. No one the military has an idenity they are part of a one. I am so proud of the Marine Corp for maintaining its purpose. The Army is riddled with so much problems due to allowing young soldiers to marry and allowing women in. It's a different army now an dmore like a social welfare program

    August 13, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. Independant Thinker

    A Democratic Military. Ridiculous.
    Spouses??? Even more ridiculous.

    The USMC taught me this....OBEY YOUR ORDERS!

    There was no "survey." You did what you were told and if you didn't like it.......tough!

    August 13, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    I doubt soldiers care. If their fellow soldier is qualified, competent, wants to serve, and does his duty – then who cares about his life when off duty.

    Just repeal this stupid law. It's unnecessary discrimination at a time when we need ALL people who want to serve in our military.

    I don't care who is or isn't gay at my job. If they work hard and do a good job, then they have as much right to the job as anyone else.

    I'd rather work with a gay person than a man who goes home and beats his wife or is a child abuser. You never know what goes on in someone's home so making judgments is wrong.

    August 13, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Victim of GOP Taliban

    It doesn't make ANY sense to kick gays out of the military if they are professional and do their jobs like everyone else. Everyone should have an equal chance to serve their nation. Keep DADT in principle but let them serve and don't kick any gays out for simply being gay.

    August 13, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. Aaron

    About 75% of soldiers don't seem too concerned about whether or not gays are openly allowed in the military. That's alot less than the 100% of religious fanatics whose panties are wadded up about it.

    August 13, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. Ken in NC

    When the President ordered the military to desegregate, there was no massive expenditure of borrowed money. The Commander in Chif issued the order and the military carried it out. Some soldiers were asked to give their opinion as officers and some as enlisted men but these massive amounts of moneis were not wasted.

    For those that are not now or have never been in the military that have concerns about some straight soldier taking a shower with a gay soldier consider this. They already are. For those of you concerned about a straight solider sleeping in the same barracks or tent or hut with a gay soldier, consider this. They already are and if you think for one minute you think a straight soldier in a firefight is going to take time to be curious about the buddy fighting next to him or if by chance, a soldier is caught out in the open and wounded, he is not going to give a rat's a$$ if a straight or gay soldier risk his or her life to save him. He will simply look up and say "THANKS DUDE".

    Get over this thing Old People. Most of our young people out there today could care less about someone elses sexual preferences.

    August 13, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Str8whtguy

    I'd love to know the outcome of this survey. I spent last week teaching a business management class to a group of retired Army folks and Army spouses, and actually got a couple comments from them in casual conversation about this issue. Every last one (and everyone in the group was married with children) said, essentially, that "everyone knows there are gays in the military, and we really don't care". Essentially, the consensus was that sexual orientation is completely irrelevant, as long as the individual is a good soldier/sailor/Marine etc.

    Let's put this nonsense behind us, like we did with racial segregation in the military 60 years ago.

    August 13, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    It sounds like the servicemen and women are just like the rest of us.
    " Don't care". Ohhh the drama when politicians need a new issue to divert people's attention from real problems like unemployment, the economy and runaway national debt.

    August 13, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. frank

    That's about normal. You never have 100% on surveys.

    Though this survey is pretty flawed from the questions that were asked.

    For a decision making purpose, it was pretty stupid and a waste of money. You do not ask for how the military feels before you make a decision. Its never been done before. So, next time we'll have a survey on attacking the Japanese fleet at Midway? Or if we should have the Army or Navy do the strategy in the Pacific War? What a joke.

    August 13, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  11. Michael

    I can't believe anyone really cares anymore if people are gay. It is nothing short of ridiculous to watch a grossly fat televangelist red-faced and jowls shaking with rage as he reads aloud from the Bible how homosexuality is an abomination, carefully skipping the part in the same verse where it classes gluttony as equally abominable. I have NEVER heard a sermon against gluttony.

    August 13, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. Judy

    A survey of the military? Why? It doesn't matter!

    August 13, 2010 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Wendy P

    I voted for Obama but he has FAILED to support gay and lesbian Americans, hence the repeal of DADT and DOMA. Since when is it OK to ask others how they "feel" about working alongside others with the same dedication, loyalty, and faithfulness but happen to be BORN different?? I am a Progressive...Obama is a Democrat. He has failed on MANY different levels, and voicing his support on this issue and NOT my marriage, is one of them.

    August 13, 2010 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |