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July 8th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Pentagon sends out 'don't ask, don't tell' survey

Lt. Dan Choi, a graduate of West Point, takes part in the 39th annual gay pride parade June 28, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Getty Images)

(CNN) – The Pentagon on Wednesday began sending out to troops a survey of more than 100 questions seeking their views on the impact of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" restrictions prohibiting gays and lesbians from openly serving in the U.S. military. An administration official confirmed to CNN that the survey is being sent to 200,000 active duty troops and 200,000 reserve troops. The official declined to be identified because the survey has not officially been made public. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr breaks it down for us. Watch Video

The survey, which service members can expect to receive via e-mail, asks about such issues as how unit morale or readiness might be affected if a commander is believed to be gay or lesbian; the need to maintain personal standards of conduct; and how repeal might affect willingness to serve in the military.

The survey also asks a number of questions aimed at identifying problems that could occur when troops live and work in close quarters in overseas war zones. For example, the questionnaire asks military members how they would react if they had to share a room, bathrooms, and open-bay showers in a war zone with other service members believed to be gay or lesbian.

There also are several questions about reactions to dealing with same-sex partners in social situations.

The Pentagon established a team to conduct the survey earlier this year. President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have all publicly backed a repeal of the current policy. Defense Department officials insist the survey is aimed at determining the impact of a repeal - not whether repeal should happen.

Several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have said they want to see the results of the survey before they offer their final advice on the impact of a repeal to Obama and Gates.

In May, the House of Representatives approved a plan that would repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy after the military's internal review is completed and Obama, Gates, and Mullen to sign off on the policy change. The Senate, however, did not pass the measure.

According to a senior U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the review process, the military needs until the end of 2010 to figure out how to implement a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in terms of housing, medical and marriage benefits, as well as issues involving the reinstatement of gay soldiers previously discharged under the policy.

A major problem might be determining how to reconcile the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" with federal law that defines marriage as between a man a woman, the official said.

In addition to distributing the survey, the Pentagon has also been soliciting opinions in a number of private meetings with troops.

The results of the review will not be available until December, the official said.

CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report

Filed under: Gay Rights • Military
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Currently Deployed

    Mark D- YOu are incredibly ingnorant! The fact is this didnt happen with blacks because that was an issue of race. This is an issue of sexuality which can cause just as many if not more issues among ranks as race. Do you realize how hard it was to get women incoproated into forward deployed positions due to the fact that sex would always be an issue? Do you realize how many years went by that women had to prove that sex wouldnt be an issue? women and men are kept in separate quarters for a reason and to add homosexuals would raise a need to address further separation just to keep comfort levels, moral issues, and sex out of the question during deployments. Soliders are people and we desreve the right to voice our opionions. maybe you should listen to what we have to say considering we are the ones defending your right to say ANYTHING. i am speaking for many of my fellow service members in this message.

    July 10, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  2. goreadd

    As I’m a prior service member, who served overseas in open bay bathroom I have a unique perspective. Especially when I got a love letter from someone who said they were watching me shower and wanted to meet me for a quiet evening. To further give this a special meaning it was on Christmas day the first away from home. If you want to talk about this ask a female friend how she would feel if while she was showering at her gym and a man walked in and started showing with her. Then asked her for a date when she was leaving. Until the military goes to genderless bathrooms I think you know my answer. Don’t try and quantify it by a one in a million, the OSI said they had multiple complaints the last couple of months when they received mine and this was just a small base.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  3. End game

    MarkD: The survey was not released by DOD.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  4. MarkD

    An article about a survey and you don't show the survey? How can you call yourself a "reporter". Look it's our tax dollars going to ask people 100 questions about gay people and you don't show the questions... Unbelievable. How many different ways can you ask about gay people? 100 ways I suppose. This is craziness. Just insanity... Did the military ask 100 questions about the integration of blacks? This is beyond the pale ludicrous. The soldiers are supposed to take orders not be asked what their comfort level is about being shot at. This article is infuriating. Do your job next time.

    July 8, 2010 at 9:33 am |