If the United States military commissioned an expensive study to ask hundreds of thousands of troops if they could possibly stomach being around you and people like you, would it make you:
a) disgusted and angry?
b) hurt and offended?
c) astonished and perplexed?
d) all of the above?
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits gay and lesbian servicemembers from open military service is very close to being gone forever, but apparently the LGBT community will be subjected to at least one more round of humiliation on the journey toward repeal in the form of “The Survey.”
The Pentagon is asking 400,000 servicemembers a slew of questions about their feelings on "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" — because you know how the military likes to ask for people’s opinion before making decisions? Like “Hey guys, we are thinking of bombing this location in Afghanistan… what do you think?” Or other personnel decisions like allowing women and people of color into the military.
Oh right, those decisions actually didn’t include 32 page questionnaires (at a cost of $4.4 million for taxpayers). They were just made.
A complete version of the leaked survey can be read here, but here are five of the worst questions in my estimation:
1. In the unit where you had a coworker you believed to be gay or lesbian, about how many other unit members also believed the coworker to be gay or lesbian? Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight.com astutely pointed out that it appears the military spent a whole lot of money just to test the gaydar of servicemembers. This line of questioning is simply absurd — if they are worried about a bunch of guys gossiping about whether or not Johnny is gay, the best way to put a stop to it is to take away the policy preventing Johnny from saying he is gay.
2. If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are working with a Service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how, if at all, would it affect how often your immediate unit socializes together off duty? Really? The Pentagon is managing the social lives of soldiers now? Some people will get along and hang out after work and some won’t — sexual orientation is irrelevant.
3. If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed, how, if at all, would the way your family feels about your military service be affected? Wow. Is it really a concern that a soldier’s family will be shamed by their service because other soldiers are allowed to serve openly and honestly?
4. If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are assigned to bathroom facilities with an open bay shower that someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian Service member also used, which are you most likely to do? Oh, the shower question — this seems to be the most important reason why gay and lesbian servicemembers cannot openly serve … because they are apparently predatory animals who cannot control themselves? This notion is offensive and immature and it needs to go away.
5. If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and a gay or lesbian Service member attended a military social function with a same-sex partner, which are you most likely to do? Do they really expect people to boycott a gala because Soldier X may bring his husband? Anyone who would not come for this reason does not sound like they would be fun to party with anyway.
Photo credit: JColeman