I have written before on my personal blog about insider e-mails that I have received from inside sources at Westat - the contractor conducting the DADT study for the Pentagon - that indicate that there are reasons to be concerned that the study is being manipulated to find against the repeal of DADT.
Obviously, the results of a study can be slanted to arrive at a predetermined conclusion by way of what questions are asked and who is consulted for responses. Personally, I have zero confidence in the Pentagon's ability to deliver an unbiased study. Most of the top military brass has made it clear that they are homophobic and still hostile towards a repeal of DADT. Yet these very folks are directing the study.
Apparently, I am not the only one worried about a distorted study being delivered by the Pentagon. As the Denver Post is reporting, Citizens for Repeal, which represents active-duty gay and lesbian soldiers, has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticizes the lack of input from gay and lesbian service members in the months-long Pentagon study on repeal of "don't ask, don't tell. Here are some story highlights (a copy of the letter can be found at the bottom of this post):
The letter, sent Monday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, criticizes the lack of input from gay and lesbian soldiers. It claims that lack of input "will result in failure to show that the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy has allowed the worst of atrocities to occur in our military and go unreported." The problem for gay and lesbian service members is that as long as "don't ask, don't tell" is in effect, they can not openly discuss their experiences.
"The law is still in effect, and if someone were to out themselves, we would have to begin the discharge process," said Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman. But, she emphasized, the group gathering information about "don't ask, don't tell" understands that it is "very important to get feedback from gay and lesbian members currently serving, and we are developing tools to gather that information."
The letter highlights that gays and lesbians already serve openly in many units with tolerant commanders and claims such units should be studied to understand how and why they work, something impossible under the study's restrictions.
"Our heterosexual counterparts see their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters at arms being unjustifiably called 'a social experiment' and 'potential rapists' while no leadership defends us," said the letter from Citizens for Repeal, which grew out of a group of gay cadets at the Air Force Academy and now encompasses gay and lesbian service personnel from all five military branches. "The very groups that make these claims have direct access to the Pentagon working group, but gay and lesbian soldiers who risk their lives every day, do not," the letter said.
LGBT rights organizations need to be constantly vigilant to ensure that no manipulation is done to the DADT study so that the senior military leadership will not have maneuvered themselves into a position to torpedo the repeal of DADT. Of course, if we had true leadership from the White House and Congressional Democrats, such a study would not even be necessary. Sadly, we don't, and we are stuck with this abortion of a compromise - assuming the Senate passage the bill.
TEXT OF LETTER FROM CITIZENS FOR REPEAL TO DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
June 7, 2010 Secretary Gates:
We, as openly gay and lesbian service men and women, write to you today to express our dismay at a significant omission from current efforts to study the impact of repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The dilemma created by current policies effectively prevents interviews of gay and lesbian servicemembers and the heterosexual colleagues who knowingly serve alongside them, and it has left a gaping hole in the current investigation.
Many of us have served, and will continue to serve, openly in our units --across all branches of the military. It is unlikely that anyservicemembers will speak out honestly regarding open service because of the scarlet letter that has been symbolically placed on gay and lesbian men and women in the military. Leadership that has allowed open service would dare not admit it for fear of retaliation. These are the very units that should be studied the most, for they most clearly demonstrate the capacity for soldiers to serve with each other, regardless of sexual orientation, while still being highly effective at their service to our country.
This unbalanced debate hurts our military cohesion when we need it the most. Our heterosexual counterparts see their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters at arms being unjustifiably called "a social experiment" and "potential rapists" while no leadership defends us. The very groups that make these claims have direct access to the Pentagon working group, but gay and lesbian soldiers who risk their lives every day, do not. Failure to directly interview gay and lesbian troops will result in failure to show that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has allowed the worst of atrocities to occur in our military and go unreported. Gay and lesbian servicemembers are given the choice to either report heinous crimes, such as rape, blackmail, and assault, or sacrifice the careers they love.
We ask that you allow the Pentagon working group to approach gay members of the military, under the current policy, without fear of retribution. We ask that our current service be respected as this critical inquiry proceeds. As we lay our lives on the line like our colleagues we ask our leaders to honor our service and respect our sacrifice by defending our service against these attacks