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Servicemembers United: Pentagon survey on don't ask, don't tell 'incredibly biased, derogatory'

News release from Servicemembers United:

Survey Remains Safe for Gay, Lesbian Troop Participation

07/09/2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today strongly condemned the biased and derogatory design of the long-awaited Defense Department survey on issues related to the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. The survey, which was created and administered by the research firm Westat in conjunction with the Comprehensive Review Working Group, was sent out to 400,000 non-deployed active duty troops at a cost to taxpayers of $4.4 million.

"While it remains safe for gay and lesbian troops to participate in this survey, it is simply impossible to imagine a survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations going out about any other minority group in the military," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "Unfortunately, this expensive survey stokes the fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the Pentagon's responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this inevitable policy change even harder. The Defense Department just shot itself in the foot by releasing such a flawed survey to 400,000 servicemembers, and it did so at an outrageous cost to taxpayers."

Nicholson added, "Flawed aspects of the survey include the unnecessary use of terms that are known to be inflamatory and bias-inducing in social science research, such as the clinical term 'homosexual;' an overwhelming focus on the potential negative aspects of repeal and little or no inclusion of the potential positive aspects of repeal or the negative aspects of the current policy; the repeated and unusual suggestion that a co-worker or leader might need to 'discuss' appropriate behavior and conduct with gay and lesbian troops; and more."

A copy of the survey can be found at http://www.servicemembersunited.org/survey.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, passed in 1993 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994, has resulted in the abrupt firing of more than 14,000 men and women because of their sexual orientation, and has led tens of thousands more to voluntarily terminate their careers because of the burden of serving under this outdated law. There are an estimated 66,000 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals currently serving in the U.S. military and an estimated 1 million gay, lesbian, and bisexual veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

For more information about Servicemembers United, please visit www.servicemembersunited.org. For the latest information on discharge numbers, polling, statistics, studies, and other archival and reference information related to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' issue, please visit www.dadtarchive.org.

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Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.

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