Danny Ingram, president of American Veterans for Equal Rights, commenting on the recent release of a long anticipated Pentagon “2010 DoD Comprehensive Review Survey of Uniformed Active Duty and Reserve Service Members” regarding their attitude toward serving with openly gay personnel in America’s armed forces, said that “the survey may very well reveal that today’s patriotic young volunteers, honorably serving around the world today, are likely to show that they overwhelmingly believe in the equality they have sworn to defend and have not the slightest concern serving alongside fellow soldiers who happen to be gay.”
Ingram noted that other recent scientific surveys such as the 2006 Zogby poll of active duty combat veterans demonstrated that nearly 75% had no issues serving alongside lesbian and gay personnel. “The current Pentagon survey should reveal a similar result”, said Ingram, who, along with other gay and lesbian veterans, met with the DOD’s Comprehensive Review Working Group at the Pentagon in May where the survey was discussed. “Secretary of Defense William Gates has ordered the Working Group to carry out this research”, continued Ingram, “and DOD General Counsel Charles Johnson and General Carter Ham who head up the Working Group were committed to performing their duty as instructed. The questions are very extensive, and some of them have been viewed as biased, but AVER believes that a majority of today’s service members will reflect an increasingly progressive attitude toward gay service.”
AVER encourages active duty LGBT personnel to respond to the survey along with 400,000 other active service members invited to participate. Some LGBT groups have warned gay and lesbian service members not to take the survey, but participants are not asked about their own sexual orientation. LGBT personnel should refrain from indicating their orientation in the ‘personal comment’ sections of the survey in order to protect themselves from discharge under the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law which prohibits open gay service.
“There is nothing in the survey which even gets close to asking about whether you’re gay”, said Admiral Al Steinman, AVER’s highest ranking member and one of the nation’s leading experts on the issue of gays in the military. “To deny the Pentagon the power of our voices on this critical issue is unwise”, continued the admiral. “If we fail to let the Pentagon understand what life under DADT is like for gay and lesbian service members by giving honest answers to these questions, we only hurt ourselves by allowing the opinions of those who oppose our service to have undue weight. Repealing DADT simply means that all men and women who don the uniform in defense of their nation can serve under the same rules and regulations — that is not a difficult concept to understand.”
American Veterans for Equal Rights, founded in 1990, serves the needs of LGBT veterans and active duty service members, and advocates for the right of all Americans to serve in our nation’s armed forces regardless of sexual orientation.