Later today, the U.S. Senate will vote on whether or not to end debate on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill includes a key provision to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', the controversial policy that bans openly gay individuals from military service.
Supporters of the repeal need to get 60 votes in the Senate to beat a Republican filibuster, according to Politico. Senator John McCain is leading the filibuster charge. He wants to delay voting on the repeal to give the Pentagon more time to complete a survey of 400,000 men and women in uniform. That survey is supposed to help the Pentagon prepare to implement the repeal if it passes.Â Unfortunately, there is plenty of reason to believe that the survey is nothing more than a political tool for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' supporters.
TheÂ survey, which has been leaked and can beÂ viewed online, repeatedly asks service member to respond to questions about how serving next to suspected gays and lesbians has affectedÂ unit morale and performance. When a these answering questions, service members are given the following options, listed in the order in which they appear:
- A lot
- A little
- Not at all
- No basis to judge
The order and content of these responses seems tailored to help respondents reach a foregone conclusion, namely that gays and lesbians should not serve be allowed to serve in the military. Most notably absent from the survey is the possibility that gay or lesbian service members might have had aÂ positive impact on unit morale and performance. The Pentagon wants to judge these service members solely based upon their gayness, not based upon other relevant qualities like courage or leadership.Â Â The survey is therefore not only decidedly unfair and unbalanced, it will also do little to help the Pentagon prepare to fully integrate gays and lesbians.
Pollsters long ago perfected the art of creating surveys designed to influence, rather than measure, opinion. The Pentagon's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' survey was designed to do just that. The proof is in the pudding.Â The survey makes little mention of the many other issues that have affected military morale over the past decade. Our troops have been asked to endure extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.Â They have been ordered to fight dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan using only the most meager of resources. They have watched friends fall to friendly fire, only to see their sacrifice downplayed or covered up for political convenience.Â But the Pentagon doesn't want to talk about these things. It's content to try pin the blame on the thousands of gays and lesbians who just want to serve our nation by putting on a uniform.
Even John McCain admits that he hasn't made up his mind about whether or not to support the repeal. His case for a filibuster is weak. McCain isÂ accusing Democrats of rushing to repeal a policy that's been in existence since 1993. Apparently 17 years of debate and study is not enough for him.
It seems to be enough for the American people. Several public opinion polls conducted this year showed strong public support for repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. In oneÂ Quinnipiac University poll, 57 percent of respondents said they were in favor of repealing the policy. Even more, 66 percent, said that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' amounts to discrimination.
The end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will likely lead to a sudden increase in military recruitment, which can only help to improve national security.Â It's time to end this antiquated policy.
The 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell" debate has John McCain following the far right again! Photo by Andrew Ciscel fromÂ Wikipedia Commons.