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Troops on DADT: 90% don’t care

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes is reporting that three weeks after the Pentagon 100 question Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell survey was sent to 400,000 servicemembers, the response rate for the survey is only about 10%. Some 90% of the members of the military asked apparently do not have strong enough feelings on the issue one way or another to be bothered to respond.According to the article, “The survey, featuring more than 100 questions on perceptions of troops’ morale and behavior before and after a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, is designed to give a Defense Department working group a better sense of servicemembers’ concerns about allowing openly gay troops in the ranks.” However this response rate shows the danger of a self selected pool of responses. If one looks at the roughly 40,000 responses to the survey so far, they are likely to be from those most passionate on the issue on either side of the spectrum, though given the negative wording of many of the questions, its is very likely that most of the 40,000 are very anti-repeal and very, very anti-gay. But if you look at the whole pool of those surveryed, those negative responses are just a small fraction. The overwhelming vast majority of people didn’t have strong feelings one way or another, which to me is a good thing. It shows that allowing LGBT’s to openly serve is not likely to cause major issues with the overwhelming vast majority of servicemembers.

In a diary yesterday on DailyKos about the NOM rally protest, one commenter was reminded of a story she heard told of a group of  conservative older men discussing same sex marriage. After their discussion, a young woman interjected into their conversation, “”You don’t get it. You’ve already lost. We don’t care.” The story the commenter was recounting, was the one told by Iowa State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal on the floor of the Iowa Senate in a debate on bringing an amendment to the floor to reverse the Iowa marriage equality decision. Gronstal’s speech was from the experience of his daughter at her place of work and her statement, as relay by her father was “You guys don’t understand. You’ve already lost. My generation doesn’t care.”

I think that is absolutely true in the discussion of the military and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Remember, the average age of new recruits is around 19 years old. The average age of all servicemembers is less than 30. These kids grew up knowing LGBT people and do not have the same prejudices that still persist in the upper brass of the military and in the halls of Congress. That is no excuse to simply leave equal rights for LGBTs up to the inevitability of history, to have LGBT’s wait 30 years for the inevitable when we all know right now what is coming, marriage equality, employment protection, immigration equality, open service in the military, housing protection, credit protection, etc, etc.

Yesterday, in a diary on DailyKos, I pointed out that even Bill f***ing O’Reilly thinks it is time to stop the discharges under DADT. The lack of response to the Pentagon’s survey is yet another nail in the coffin of this failed policy, a policy that can be made irrelevant while the repeal proceeds in Congress just by President Obama issuing a stop loss order pursuant to his authority under 10 U.S.C. §12305.

(crossposted at DailyKos)

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