Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Center for Military Readiness “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Survey Points to Politics Over Principle in Obama Decision to Overturn Law

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Voters were 26 percentage points more likely to believe that politics, not principle, motivated President Obama’s promise to overturn the law (57%-31%).

But, is the destructive aspect of DADT destroying honorable service and careers being left out of the equation?

Adding to what many Americans see as the politics over priority tone deafness of the Obama administration, many feel Washington is once again putting special interest politics above solving the priority issues of jobs and the economy. A survey of 1,000 likely voters, commissioned by The Military Culture Coalition (MCC), finds support for the status quo on the issue of homosexuals in the military. It also finds little support for the current movement to repeal the 1993 law that is referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

In a conference call I attended a few days ago, the Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly predicted that the opinions of likely voters reflected in the MCC survey should give lawmakers yet another reason to support the current law. “Americans understand that the current push for sexual minorities in the military is motivated by politics, not principle. Instead of seeking favor with a minority of LGBT activists, lawmakers should heed the advice of military leaders who support the current law.”

The Center for Military Readiness is an independent, non-partisan 501(c)(3) public policy organization that specializes in military social issues. Details of the Military Culture Coalition survey, a project of the Center for Military Readiness, are available at

Major findings of the MCC survey include the following:

By a margin of 48%-45% voters preferred retaining, rather than repealing, the 1993 law to allow homosexual persons to serve openly in the military.

More people would give weight and deference to the four service chiefs of the military rather than to advocates in the decision to overturn the law.

Only 1% of likely voters said that this should be the top priority for Congress and the President through the end of this year.

Voters were 26 percentage points more likely to believe that politics, not principle, motivated President Obama’s promise to overturn the law (57%-31%).

30% would be less likely and 21% more likely to vote for their Member of Congress knowing that he or she voted to disrupt the status quo.

A majority of likely voters (52%) opposed (and 37% favored) the imposition of career penalties on military personnel and chaplains who do not support homosexuality in the military.

By a margin of 55%-40%, likely voters disagreed that the “military should modify training programs to promote acceptance of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in all military colleges, training programs, and schools run by the U.S. Defense Department.”

Voters opposed allowing abortions in military medical facilities by a margin or 49%-41%.

Lawmakers who vote for abortions in tax-funded military facilities do so at their own political peril: 43% would be less likely and 21% more likely to vote for their Members of Congress who do so.

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Unlike other major news organization polls of adults in general, the MCC survey sought the opinions of 1,000 likely voters nationwide. The Polling Company/WomanTrend conducted the poll in mid-July with randomly-dialed phone calls, producing results with a 3.1% margin of error. The extensive survey asked respondents specific questions about the1993 law and the political impact on lawmakers voting to revoke it. It also used terms favored by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) groups advocating repeal, and sought opinions on controversial proposals that the same activists have recommended for implementation if Congress revokes the law.

Even with respect given to the American opinion reflected in this survey, a couple of days after the survey results press conference call a reason for a more personal affect look of the DADT policy surfaced. With the New York Times article “Officer Sues to Block Discharge Under Gay Ban”; it is obvious the current Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy’s destructive ramifications for career military personnel whom have served with honor and had exemplary military careers is why a review of the policy should be a priority within the fairness of Americans to fellow Americans.

As detailed in the NYT piece, “His lawyers also assert that his case underscores the ways the ban hurts military readiness, the very thing it is supposed to protect. They say that Colonel Fehrenbach’s performance reviews were consistently glowing, including his most recent one, which says he was a “proven leader” who “raised morale” in his unit, according to papers filed by his lawyers.”

Further noted by NYT is “The evidence is that he is a benefit to the Air Force and to his unit,” said M. Andrew Woodmansee, a San Diego-based lawyer who is serving as co-counsel for Colonel Fehrenbach, along with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit group representing gays in the military."

One of the things that is evident in reviewing and resolving the DADT policy once and for all for the fairness to gay and straight military personnel is you won’t get anywhere with politics over principal and with both sides “digging” in with extreme demands. The pro-repeal side demanding a “zero tolerance” to anything but a pro-gay policy ignores the rights of anyone to have an opinion or display a belief even slightly different than theirs which could also result in the unfair destructive career ramifications the DADT policy effects. The pro-retain side demanding a “zero tolerance” to anything but a DADT policy ignores the reality of all Americans having sensible equal rights to having a military career as a choice of vocation without an unequal limitation.

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In doing this article, I found it interesting that the military showed extreme tolerance toward an officer that was known to be a Muslim extremist which resulted in a shooting rampage and deaths on a military base; yet tolerance for Colonel Fehrenbach who flew combat missions over Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan during his six deployments for the United States military appears to be very limited based on DADT policy. While this may not seem to be a priority for Americans to address as concluded in the MCC survey, maybe a better question to ask Americans in a DADT survey is “Should a career of honorable military service be destroyed by DADT?”

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