Military surveys spouses on 'don't ask, don't tell'
The Pentagon wants to know whether spouses would urge their husbands or wives to leave the military if it repeals "don't ask, don't tell," and how they might behave at social functions if an openly gay couple attends.
The Defense Department is asking such questions of about 150,000 military spouses who started receiving copies of the 44-question survey on Friday. (See a copy below.) Spouses have until Sept. 27 to complete it, the Pentagon said.
"Your voice is important and we need you to participate," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates states in a letter accompanying the survey. "The survey is confidential and will enable you to be straightforward and candid in your responses."
The survey asks whether they think a respondent's spouse has ever worked with a service member they believe to be gay and how well they knew the individual.
It also asks whether spouses would like the military to provide them with information if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. Options include receiving information about the repeal on military Web sites, through online chats, in-person informational sessions, from military chaplains, counselors or not at all.
Among other questions on the survey:
-- "How important a factor would a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell be to you in making decisions about your spouse's future in the military?"
-- "Would a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell affect your willingness to recommend military service to a family member or close friend?"
-- "Assume Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and you live in on-base housing. If a gay or lesbian Service member lived in your neighborhood with their partner, would you stay on-base or would you try to move out?"
-- "Would the attendance of a gay or lesbian Service member with his or her partner affect how often you attend these types of military social events?"
"This survey will help the military leadership assess the impacts, if any, a change in the law commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” might have on family readiness and military community life," Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in an e-mail.
The military sent a similar survey to about 400,000 troops in July. About 28 percent of them responded, the military said.
A copy of the survey sent to spouses was provided by OutServe, a group of more than 500 active duty gay and lesbian troops.
"We overwhelmingly believe that spouses our on our side for the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" OutServe co-director Ty Walrod said in an e-mail. "We saw in the previous survey the low participation rate, because military members simply are ready for the repeal of the policy. A new generation of members are leading the U.S. military forces and that generation understands that gay and lesbian military members are no different."
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COPY OF THE MILITARY'S SURVEY ON 'DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL':
| August 23, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Military
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