Pentagon Gay Survey: Don’t Know, Don’t Care

The Pentagon continues to fumble in their handling of their survey distributed to 400,000 service members regarding their perceptions of the impact of gay persons in military service.  Or is is just continued institutional homophobia on the part of elements of the command structure?  On the tenth page of the survey under the section headed:

Throughout this survey, “gay or lesbian” and “homosexual” are used interchangeably”

The first three questions, and possible answers are:

Do you currently serve with a male or female Service member you believe to be homosexual?



In answering the next few questions, think about all of the units you have served with during your military career.

In your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a leader you believed to be homosexual?



In your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a coworker you believed to be homosexual?



A crucial missing component of those three question and answer sets is a third option as a possible answer: Do Not Know.

The assumption that any given service member would automatically recognize if any other given service member is homosexual or lesbian simply institutionalizes the faulty logic that there is an appreciable difference in the character of those human beings who serve our country.  I can only relate this to my own service experience more than forty years ago, if I would have been asked those same questions at that time my answer would have been “Don’t know, and don’t care.” The only concern that I would have had with my shipmates was “does this person honestly do his job to the best of his or her abilities?” Nothing more, nothing less, if the person did the best job he or she was able to, then I knew two things: I could depend upon the person to share any burdens I had and that this person would have my back while I had his back.  At the end of the day, whether we parted ways and one of us went to the library and one of us went to the bar, we were still shipmates.

It is way past time when the military institutions should be wrestling with homophobia, instead of distributing a survey that implies there might be a character flaw among a segment of the military population,  the military command structure should cease the systematic foot dragging that prevents the culture from reforming itself.   Don’t survey, just set appropriate expectations of professionalism from all service members, no matter where they fit in on the command structure.

Download the survey: 34115841-2010-DoD-Comprehensive-Review-Survey-of-Uniformed-Active-Duty-and-Reserve-Service-Members

It is now time to change the operative phrase from “Don’t ask, don’t tell” to “Don’t know, don’t care”.

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3 Responses to Pentagon Gay Survey: Don’t Know, Don’t Care

  1. Jim Tucker says:

    I, too, am a Navy Veteran from 34 years ago. You’re pretty much right on, Big Fella. I concur, but with one little deviation: I care.

    There has been so much “gay bashing” as a result of the military command influence that to not care about the wanton terrorisim agaiinst homosexuals that has taken place over decades is a sin.

    It seems to me that Equality is the keyword missing from the debate. All persons ought to be accorded the same treatment regardless of the beat of the drummer they hear, and march to in their lives.


  2. Big Fella says:

    Hey, Tuck, thanks for the comment. I agree with your sentiments, we should all care about how other human beings are treated. My point, though, is that the military leadership should be beyond caring what anyone is, just recognize all service members for their efforts, intelligence, perseverance, honesty, and strength of character. Stop treating sexual orientation as a moral issue, make it a non-issue.

  3. Jim Tucker says:

    Thank you for the clarification. I do now understand what you were stating and find myself in total agreement!

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