Don’t Ask But Tell About Gay Rights

The Pentagon is sending out to 400,000 members of the military a survey which seeks to ascertain their views regarding proposals to end the infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays and lesbians. Among the questions are: “If don’t ask, don’t tell is repealed and you had on-base housing and a gay or lesbian service member was living with a same-sex partner on-base, what would you most likely do?” There are eight possible answers, two suggest normal behavior or an effort to get to know the person, four suggest discomfort or even moving off the base, one poses don’t know and the other, something else. Several gay advocacy groups are upset at wording in the survey. Alexander Nicholson of Servicemembers, argues, “it is simply impossible to imagine a survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations going out about any other minority group in the military.” He points out the word, “homosexual” is used in the survey, a word that is generally not employed in most surveys.

A Military Times poll has shown that most troops generally agree with the current policy, but opposition to repeal is steadily declining. In 1952, during the Korean War, I worked on the integration plan for the US 7th Army in Germany. We developed a plan, informed officers about it, implemented the plan and within several months the 7th Army was integrated. We did have opposition from some white soldiers who were informed they had two choices, accept integration or orders for front line combat in Korea would be cut within 24 hours. There are times when the right thing must be done, regardless of whether troops like it or not.

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