Bil Browning

Nathaniel Frank: DADT polling & the paperback edition

Filed By Bil Browning | February 14, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay soldiers, Nathaniel Frank, opinion polls, Palm Center, paperback edition, Unfriendly Fire

Right after I sat down with the Palm Center's Nathaniel Frank to talk about Don't Ask Don't Tell, he published one helluva piece on the Huffington Post about the military's announcement that they will poll the troops about their opinions on gay soldiers. Frank really nails the sheer skeeziness of basing public policy on opinion polls.

Only when it comes to the equal treatment of gays and lesbians does our country see fit to dole out rights to an oppressed minority by asking permission of the oppressing majority.

A substantial minority of Americans routinely say in polls that they think homosexual relations should be "illegal"; when asked in the same survey if they think the government should be able to throw someone in jail for consensual behavior conducted in their own bedrooms, many of those same people say no. Um, what did they think "illegal" meant in the last question when they were all too happy to support the sex police hauling people off to prison for private consensual conduct?

My video interview with Frank is after the jump.

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One has to understand that a high percentage of that group of people who said "homosexual relations should be illegal" cannot read things written with computers, typewriters, or in cursive. They just can read stuff written with crayons or agree with what their local preacher says they should.

Thank you for the interview. It's always great to see Nathaniel again who is too rare among those fighting the ban on gays in the military—he applies facts as well as emotion.

Since this interview was recorded, it has become even more painfully obvious that we, as individuals but particularly our national orgs, must quickly step up our game in the face of the return to inaction by the Administration that has only deepened and widened the vacuum the dinosaurs in the Pentagon's Jurassic Park and the Antigay Industry are exploiting.

Yet another story appeared today from the same “news” agency that has been magnifying the lavender herring of “married gay servicemembers” based on interviews with "Pentagon sources" referring to ending DADT as a "multiyear" process, that, "complete repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy is probably years away."

Worse yet, for it becomes "fulfilling prophecy," in the now patented combination of ignorance and editorial-pretending-to-be-fact mixed into virtually every AP hack's article on DADT, they declare that repeal would be "the biggest upheaval to the military's personnel policies since the 1948 executive order on racial integration." Bigger than dissolving "women only" branches such as the WACS and integrating them into traditionally male-only Army in 1978 and women into the service academies in 1975?

[NB: with a stench reminiscent of the fact that the Nazis formed the Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion, notorious opponent of gays in the military, banshee Elaine Donnelly, is equally opposed to women in combat. And, no, kids, this is not a commercial for war.]

Then AP article continues: “The goal, according to senior defense and military officials, is to avoid the backlash that could result from imposing change too fast.” Where’s the fact that many experts such as Nathaniel Frank disagree about whether any meaningful “backlash” would occur at all and what constitutes “too fast”?

Finally, the AP hand delivers the latest excuse from the brass asshats: "officials fear isolated incidents of violence could erupt as a means of protest." Yep, boys and girls, before the sky falls there will be rioting in the streets of military bases. It is to laugh...and then stand up and demand that Obama or Gates repudiate such artificially inseminated hysteria.

Just as in 1993, the public is being told, not just by Pentagon dinosaurs and professional homohaters, but by media parroting them, that lifting the ban will hurt the military. Such lies, repeated over and over then without effective challenge reduced years of support for lifting the ban, which was 59% in August of1992, to 35 percent by the end of January 1993.
It’s great that the Courage Campaign has gathered 500,000 signatures to urge Sen. Levin to move forward with a moratorium on discharges and repeal, but the pro ban forces in 1993 delivered over 400,000 phone calls to Congress in a SINGLE day; five times the daily average.

Why are our professional anti ban organizations, as sincere as most of them are, not working as one voice rather than as separate organizations, each with a slightly different approach? Where are THEIR calls for the President to fill the deadly vacuum that reappeared the day after Gates and Mullen’s Senate testimony? Where are their press conferences and news talk show appearances outlining the moral, business, and national security “cases” against DADT? Where are the full-page ads doing the same in “USA Today” and every other wide-circulation newspaper?

Last April, Nathaniel Frank wrote, “lacking a battle plan is candy to your enemies.” Each day the Administration and Gay, Inc., continues to dawdle is Valentine’s Day.

A word on surveying a military unit.
Yeah, I’ve participated in a unit surveys. Quite a few. They started some time after the Tail Hook scandal and also some other issues that were prevalent at the time.
Sexual Harassment, racism, favoritism, compliance of the command with Navy training and Safety. The last 5 years I was in the Navy we had two standard surveys. One was given every quarter and the other once a year.

1. At no time did a survey ask if any one group should have more or less rights.
2. At times, a special survey was given command wide due to a issue regarding sexual harassment, racism or favoritism. When this occurred, occasionally, the survey would be ‘cooked’ to make the survey results more beneficial to the command.
3. At times, it was mandatory to put our names on the survey’s so they could identify the person answering the survey. The last few surveys I did, we had to go to one computer in the command that was in the open, in a busy working area, completely open and anyone was able to look over your shoulder. You had to sign on to the computer to complete the survey. Not anonymous at all.
4. We all know, you can write a survey to get the end result you want.

In the end, they have a survey that won’t be answered truthfully, if it is then it will be impacted by the wording of the survey.

A word on ‘change’.
I was in some of the first commands in the Navy that had women assigned to them. Some guys welcomed them (still misogynists) and some were downright hostile to them. When I left, there were still guys who were out right hostile to them, far more took their service in stride. Mind you, the guys saying that women shouldn’t serve were not the old guys from the 80’s, but a new crop of guys who felt that a woman’s place was in the home not a job.
That wasn’t that unusual, racism is still an issue. Yeah, it’s been over 50 years since the services have been integrated and racism is still an issue. Once again, it’s not someone from 50 years ago in the military it’s the new guy who thinks it’s ok to be a ‘culture warrior’ in the ranks. Some of them are quite …racist.

Rescinding DADT and the resulting impact on DOMA
Yes, if DADT is rescinded then those gay and lesbian troops who are married (and yes, those exist right now) would have to be recognized for the equal privileges and benefits and DOMA would be an open and easy target for ANY civilian willing to take a swipe at it. The judiciary would be hard pressed to up hold DOMA when the Federal government is allowing Active Duty service members benefits that it bars civilians from. (something I’ve been saying from the start, no one listens to me)

I must have missed the answer to this question somewhere. Have transfolk chimed in on how Don't Ask Don't Tell's impending (in the same way that ice-free arctic summers are impending) repeal ought or ought not be trans-inclusive?