Saturday, March 28, 2009

Zogby survey shows that many soldiers in deployed units know gay soldiers in their units

A polling organization, Zogby, has an interesting article, if a bit belated (Dec. 18, 2006), titled “’Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Not Working” here.

It’s a bit belated now, especially as we come off the high of the National Dinner earlier this month (see March 14) but even two years ago, 23% of troops stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan said that they knew that someone in their unit was gay or lesbian, 59% said that they found out from the individual himself or herself, and 55% said that the presence of homosexuals in the unit was well known. That hardly comports with Pentagon claims that the presence of open gays will destroy “unit cohesion,” especially task cohesion, as discussed by Nathaniel Frank in his recent book. (books blog, March 11).

The percentages deployed troops who know gays and lesbians in their units will only be higher now.

Indeed, a recent series on PBS, "Carrier" about the USS Nimitz, had an episode where a sailor said frankly about gays the carrier, "a lot of the men on the ship are." (See April 27, 2008 on my TV blog.) Even as Randy Shilts had written in "Conduct Unbecoming" in 1993, the ban is a bit of a sham.

Indeed, when I was “stationed” at Fort Eustis in 1969, my own history was pretty well known in the barracks, although I was in an unusual detachment that did not face the forced intimacy often talked about. In those days, the “ban” was enforced by the individual services (Army regulations described “Class I” through “Class III” homosexuals, the last of which meant associating with homosexuals) but, when the Army and other services needed men (in a draft environment), often largely ignored.

Charlottesville (VA) libertarian writer Richard Sincere provides some more analysis in his March 26 posting, “DADT: Let’s Look at the Polling Data” here.

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