Aug 20, 2010

Congress Should Heed Polls on Gays in Military

Bob MaginnisBy Bob Maginnis

Two recent polls took vastly different approaches in surveying views about homosexuals serving in the military. A Pentagon poll asked politically correct questions designed to elicit positive responses to changing the policy, while a poll of voters sent a loud and clear message against a change.

The polls, one funded by the taxpayer and another by a non-profit group, address the contentious military homosexual law. The taxpayer-funded poll measures military views as part of the Pentagon’s promised report to Congress. The other survey asks likely voters questions that expose serious cracks in the left’s contention that the American people favor open service by homosexuals at any cost.

Congress, which is the audience for both surveys, should pay close attention for the sake of the country’s security.

The Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG), the Pentagon’s task force preparing the report on homosexuals for Congress, was directed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to “examine the issues associated with repeal of the law” and to develop “an implementation plan that addresses the impacts” by December 1. The law in question is 10 U.S.C. § 654, the “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces,” which is often confused with the regulation known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Gates also directed the CRWG to “systematically engage the force” as part of its study. That prompted CRWG to hire a pollster, Westat of Rockville, Md., to survey the armed forces to measure the likely impact of open homosexuality for unit cohesion and troop retention.

The CRWG’s $4 million survey, which finished August 15, asked 400,000 military personnel for their views but surprisingly only one in four of those members responded. The poor response to the emailed survey appears to be attributed to a combination of concern over confidentiality and to lopsided, obviously politically correct questions. The survey results won’t be publicly available until late fall if ever.

The survey has serious flaws. It asks respondents to answer questions based on the perception that a colleague is homosexual. The respondent is asked how — positively or negatively — the presumed homosexual impacted unit performance, privacy, morale, family, and career plans.

It is interesting the survey designers found space to ask about the presumed homosexual impact but no space could be found to ask if any of the respondents are homosexual — an important statistic for the military — and whether the respondents believe lifting the homosexual ban will improve or harm readiness.

The poll naively suggests “sexual orientation” — code for homosexuality — is a neutral factor for the military and then asks the troops to identify how the military services can stop personnel from leaving should the ban be repealed. One question asks whether more pay or bonuses could keep objecting personnel in uniform.

There are privacy questions. Have you shared a room or bath with someone you suspect was homosexual? What would you do if assigned to share a room or bath with someone you know is homosexual? “Leave the service” if forced to share a room or bath with an open homosexual is not a response on the survey.

There are questions about soldier reactions to open homosexuality at social functions and homosexual couples assigned on-base family housing. Apparently same-sex “family” housing and homosexual “marriage” is part of the military’s study but the survey fails to ask about morality and religious-based objections.

Results from this survey, another targeting 150,000 military spouses, and comments gathered from CRWG-conducted focus groups fulfill Gates’ order to “engage the force.” But no matter what the troops told the CRWG the Pentagon’s report will be exclusively about repeal — a plan to implement repeal and how to mitigate the consequences.

The decision to repeal the law is ultimately up to Congress, the audience for the Pentagon’s report. That body has the constitutional responsibility (Article 1, Section 8) to make the rules and regulations for the military. It must carefully study the Pentagon’s report, especially comments opposing repeal, but then Congress must also consider other input.

Congress should give serious consideration to a second poll. Last week the Military Culture Coalition (MCC), a network of major organizations supporting the current law regarding homosexuals in the military, released a survey of likely voters. The polling company inc./WomanTrend conducted the 1,000 person survey over five days in July, producing results with a 3.1% margin of error.

The MCC survey stands in stark contrast to liberal media-hosted polls that claim overwhelming support for repealing the law but rely on broad questions like: “Do you favor homosexuals serving openly in the military?” By contrast the MCC poll asked piercing questions to determine voter views regarding the importance of repeal, the ban’s logical basis, the President’s motivation for repeal, the value Congress should give to military leaders’ advice, and whether the proposed change is better than the status quo.

Not surprisingly voters expect Congress to get its priorities right. They expect Congress to focus on important issues like creating jobs (49%) and reducing government spending (23%). Only 1% of likely voters believe repealing the military’s homosexual ban should be a top priority for Congress.

Significant majorities of likely voters endorsed critical findings in the current homosexual exclusion law. Specifically, 92% agreed that our armed forces’ purpose is to prevail in combat and 65% agree that the military is a specialized society. Those findings and 13 others were used in 1993 to build the logical foundation upon which the exclusion law rests.

That logic is not lost on most voters. A majority (57%) agree that President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union promise to repeal the homosexual law is mostly for political reasons — payback to radical homosexuals for their campaign support — and not about principle (31%).

In May, the chiefs of the four military services sent letters to Congress asking members to wait before acting on repeal until after the Pentagon issues its report. Nearly half of likely voters (48%) agree Congress should listen to the service chiefs on this issue rather than to repeal advocates who would require the armed forces to accept professed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the military.

But the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives ignored the chiefs and jammed through a repeal amendment just before the Memorial Day recess. The Senate is expected to take-up that measure in September and if it is eventually passed, the long-standing ban could become history once Gates delivers his report this December.

But members of Congress facing election this November ought to consider that nearly half (48%) of likely voters prefer Congress keep the current law as opposed to 45% who favor repeal. It’s noteworthy as well that a member’s voting record on the ban makes a difference both ways to a majority of voters — 30% are less likely to support a member who voted to overturn the law and 21% are more likely to support a member who voted to overturn. The MCC poll found it makes no difference for 46%.

Congress should reject the CRWG’s report and its effort to “systematically engage the force” as politically inspired theater as did three out of every four troops. By contrast the MCC poll demonstrates that likely voters understand this issue far better than liberal media-sponsored polling suggests. That’s why Congress should do the responsible thing — reject repeal, keep the military’s long-standing ban to protect our armed forces from falling prey to the radical homosexual agenda.

Related Links

Congressman confident of DADT repeal during lame-duck - The Hill (Blog)
God's Plan for the Gay Agenda - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
Half of Democrats Favor Punishing Soldiers Who Oppose Homosexuality, Survey Finds - CNS News
Likely voters support 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' - Baptist Press
Report: U.S. Army homosexual tied to WikiLeaks scandal - World Tribune