WND pushes dubious claim that 25 percent of military would quit if DADT repealed

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie advanced the dubious claim that if Don't Ask, Don't Tell were repealed, 25 percent of the military would decline to re-enlist, based on an unnamed poll of "military folks." But Massie's claim is refuted by the experiences of several other countries that lifted their bans on gays and lesbians serving but saw no such re-enlistment reductions, even when earlier polling had predicted such reductions.

WND columnist pushes dubious claim based on anonymous "reader who is in a position to know"

From Massie's February 9 column:

Why is it so important to Obama to have homosexuals openly identified as such in the armed forces? Sexual orientation is a basic foundation of compatibility in battle. This is not a small issue. It will literally destroy the integrity of combat units, whether they be in the field, onboard ships, in airplane cockpits or in submarines.

A reader who is in a position to know told me that the "last survey among military folks [revealed] that 25 percent won't re-up if this happens. This means that to allow [the] 2 percent of those out there who choose this lifestyle into the military, we'd lose 25 percent of the experienced military folks who have morals."

So, why is it now such an imperative that homosexuals in the military be openly identified and recognized as such? Will it boost morale amongst the troops? Will it make those opposed to such behavior, based on their religious or personal convictions find homosexuality more acceptable? How will deconstructing established and understandably necessary military protocol - for the purpose of a social-engineering agenda being forced by extremists - provide for a stable military environment?

But WND's "25 percent" claim defies experiences of several other countries that have repealed their bans

Study: None of 104 experts interviewed said decisions to lift bans in four countries "led to increased difficulties in recruiting or retention." In a 2003 article for Parameters, the U.S. Army War College Quarterly, Aaron Belkin, a University of California at Santa Barbara professor who specializes in sexuality and the military, wrote that the university's Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military had conducted studies of the impact of the decisions to lift bans on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military in the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, and found: "Not a single one of the 104 experts interviewed believed that the Australian, Canadian, Israeli, or British decisions to lift their gay bans undermined military performance, readiness, or cohesion, led to increased difficulties in recruiting or retention, or increased the rate of HIV infection among the troops." According to Belkin: "To prepare the case studies, every identifiable pro-gay and anti-gay expert on the policy change in each country was interviewed, including officers and enlisted personnel, ministry representatives, academics, veterans, politicians, and nongovernmental observers. During each interview, experts were asked to recommend additional contacts, all of whom were contacted."

Study: Polls of Canada, UK predicting refusal to "work with gays," mass resignations not borne out by reality. In his 2003 article, Belkin wrote:

In a 1985 survey of 6,500 male soldiers, the Canadian Department of National Defence found that 62 percent of male service members would refuse to share showers, undress, or sleep in the same room as a gay soldier, and that 45 percent would refuse to work with gays. A 1996 survey of 13,500 British service members reported that more than two-thirds of male respondents would not willingly serve in the military if gays and lesbians were allowed to serve. Yet when Canada and Britain subsequently lifted their gay bans, these dire predictions were not confirmed.

Study: Australian officers who said they would resign did not do so. In his 2003 article, Belkin wrote:

In Australia, Commodore R. W. Gates, whose rank is equivalent to a one-star admiral, remarked that the lifting of the ban was "an absolute non-event." Professor Hugh Smith, a leading academic expert on homosexuality in the Australian military, observed that when the government ordered the military to lift the ban, some officers said, "Over my dead body; if this happens I'll resign." However, Smith said that there were no such departures and that the change was accepted in "true military tradition." Bronwen Grey, an official in the Australian Defence Ministry, reported, "There was no increase in complaints about gay people or by gay people. There was no known increase in fights, on a ship, or in Army units. . . . The recruitment figures didn't alter."

Military sociologist: Results of survey show repeal debate parallels racial and gender integration debates

Segal: Percent of polled service members who would not re-enlist smaller than those who said they would resign if women admitted to West Point. A December 29, 2008, Military Times article reported that the paper's survey of active-duty service members found that if DADT were repealed, "nearly 10 percent of respondents said they would not re-enlist or extend their service, and 14 percent said they would consider terminating their careers after serving their obligated tours." The Times further reported:

David Segal, a military sociologist at the University at Maryland, drew a parallel between the current debate and earlier discussions about changing the composition of the force, from racial integration in the 1940s and 1950s to gender integration in the 1970s.

Segal described the nearly 10 percent of active-duty respondents who said they would leave the military if the policy was overturned as "a relatively small number."

"That's a smaller number of career officers than who in the 1970s said they would leave the service if women were admitted to West Point," Segal said. "They were expressing a strongly held attitude. But when women were admitted to West Point, there was not anything near that kind of exodus from the service."

Massie pushes discredited "morale," "social experiment" arguments

From Massie's column:

So, why is it now such an imperative that homosexuals in the military be openly identified and recognized as such? Will it boost morale amongst the troops? Will it make those opposed to such behavior, based on their religious or personal convictions find homosexuality more acceptable? How will deconstructing established and understandably necessary military protocol - for the purpose of a social-engineering agenda being forced by extremists - provide for a stable military environment?

[...]

My point should be obvious - being recognized as a openly homosexual doesn't make a person a better soldier. But being identified as openly homosexual would be a destabilizing poison to the morale of persons for whom said is vital.

Claims are dubious conservative talking points undermined by experience of other nations. Media Matters for America has documented prior claims from conservative media figures that repealing DADT would constitute a "social experiment" or undermine morale and unit cohesion. Those claims are heavily undermined by the fact that other countries allow gay men and lesbians to serve in the military, and many have said it has not created problems.

At least 25 nations -- including many U.S. allies -- allow military service by openly gay people. According to the Palm Center, as of June 2009, 25 nations allowed military service by openly gay people, including North America Treaty Organization member countries Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

GAO: Other countries say allowing gays to serve openly "has not created problems in the military." In a June 1993 report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied four countries that allow gay men and lesbians to serve in the military -- Canada, Israel, Germany, and Sweden -- and found that military officials said "the presence of homosexuals has not created problems in the military because homosexuality is not an issue in the military or in society at large." It also found that "[m]ilitary officials from each country said that, on the basis of their experience, the inclusion of homosexuals in their militaries has not adversely affected unit readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, or morale." GAO wrote that it chose those four countries to study because they "generally reflect Western cultural values yet still provide a range of ethnic diversity" and have similarly sized militaries.

Massie's column features anti-gay rhetoric

In his column, headlined "Is cross-dressing in fatigues next?", Massie writes that "[o]penly homosexual personnel would have a pernicious effect resulting in the delegitimization of the finest military in the world," and states that President Obama's call for repeal of DADT is "about forcing an Erebusic agenda and behavior into an environment that is morally and socially incompatible with it."

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