article in Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the Unites States armed forces, reports that with just two weeks left, only 10% of the 400,000 recipients of the Pentagon's controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell survey have bothered to respond. Military leaders are scrambling to communicate to the troops the importance of the survey and the need for their input. The survey deadline is August 15th.
The problem for the Pentagon is that it appears all the findings from all the previous polls on the subject are true: the majority of today's military personnel just don't care about whether or not they serve with gays and lesbians.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Servicemembers United have both called the survey biased, slanted and anti-gay and warned closeted gays and lesbians in the military not to answer the survey out of concerns over anonymity. Is it possible that 90% of US military personnel are queer? Not likely, but we can dream, can't we?
It's much more likely that the 100-question survey is just too long and most of the troops who got it just can't be bothered. I've read the survey. It's long and boring and would probably take at least a half an hour to answer all the questions. Who has that kind of time to devote to something they really don't care about one way or the other, especially when you're so busy fighting two wars?
Arguably the most important factor is that it has been made abundantly clear by President Obama, the Pentagon and the House and Senate that repeal is going to happen, regardless of the survey results. I've never served in the military, but I do know that I wouldn't be likely to take part in a survey if I knew that my input was not going to have any effect.
What this story really underscores for me is the generation gap between the military's top brass, who are mostly over 60 and the grunts serving in the field, who are in their 20's and 30's. Younger people, both in and out of the military, are less homophobic than senior citizens. Maybe it's time to retire these old codgers and let some younger minds start calling the shots.
AARP Pride Information and Resources for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People, Families and Allies - AARP