Right-wing media have given Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a platform to tie reports on increased sexual assaults in the military to the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, contradicting studies that have found no link between the two.
In May 2013, the Department of Defense released its "Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military" for fiscal year 2012 which found that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault that year, 14,000 of which were male and 12,000 female.
Supporters of DADT cited the report as evidence that the policy's repeal has forced an "embrace of homosexuality" in the military and led to a growing trend in same-sex sexual assault. During an interview with WND, Donnelly continued her campaign against the repeal of DADT by claiming the report proved that the "the military suffers a wave of gay sex assaults." In a Washington Times op-ed, Donnelly added that the increase in sexual assaults reported by men should call into question claims that the repeal of DADT has been successful:
If these estimates are used to justify more funding for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office programs, they also should call into question Pentagon claims that repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented in 1993 has been a complete "success."
Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT group Family Research Council, used quotes from Donnelly which were published in a separate Washington Times article to blame the policy's repeal for the rise in sexual assaults. In May 21 email, Perkins claimed:
[T]he Obama administration ordered military leaders to embrace homosexuality--completely dismissing the concerns that it could be a problem to have people attracted to the same sex, living in close quarters.
But as the Washington Times article pointed out, experts have noted that "'very few' male-on-male perpetrators are gay." The Palm Center, a group that specializes in military LGBT issues, reported that since the repeal of DADT, "the military has reported no substantial problems as a result of allowing gays to serve openly in uniform." Its report noted that ending DADT "has had no overall negative impact on military readiness." They also found:
No known incidents of violence or assaults have been linked to repeal, according to Pentagon officials and gay-rights advocates, and recruiting and retention remain strong. The vast majority of troops report no impact on their units' cohesion.
NOTE: Thomas Bishop is a current military officer who has served as an Equal Opportunity Leader in the Army Reserves.