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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Survey Distributed

The Pentagon began sending 400,000 surveys to members of the armed forces yesterday to gauge their opinions on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The survey, which is being sent to 200,000 active duty troops and 200,000 reserve troops, is meant to examine the potential impact of the repeal. Results of the survey will be presented to President Obama in December, as part of a final report and implementation plan. The Service members Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a non-profit organization dedicated to ending DADT, has advised gay and lesbian service members not to participate in the survey, according to the Washington Post. The SLDN issued a statement warning gay and lesbian service members that because DADT is still being enforced, the survey could result in their discharge if their answers accidentally reveal their identity. Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of SLDN, said in a statement that, “while the surveys are apparently designed to protect the individual’s privacy, there is no guarantee of privacy and [the Department of Defense] has not agreed to provide immunity to service members whose privacy may be inadvertently violated or who inadvertently outs himself or herself.” She continued, “if a service member still wishes to participate, he or she should only do so in a manner that does not reveal sexual orientation,” reported the Washington Post. The survey includes a separate link for gay or lesbian service members who wish to offer additional comments, according to MSNBC. The link is operated by an independent research firm, and allows gay and lesbian service members to comment on their experiences free from DADT stipulations, reported the Washington Post. Questions on the survey address issues such as how the repeal could affect willingness to serve in the military and unit morale and readiness if a commander is thought to be gay or lesbian, according to CNN. Survey questions also seek to identify potential problems the repeal could pose when troops are living in close quarters together overseas. DADT was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, and also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops. The House of Representatives voted in May to add an amendment to a defense spending bill that would repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) after a military review on the policy is completed in December.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 5/28/10; CNN 7/8/10; MSNBC 7/7/10; Washington Post 7/8/10

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