“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Don’t Work – RAND Corporation Study Suports Gays in Uniform

You know how to read, right? So have at it – I just found a nice link for you that I couldn’t find last month. Hai, doozo:

Attitudes of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans toward Gay and Lesbian Service Members

So, the “unit-cohesion” rationale, the concern about risking ”the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability” and all the underlying foundation of Bill Clinton’s antediluvian, pre-Lewinsky Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces is out the window due to changing attitudes over the past couple of decades.

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Or if all that .pdf is too much, here’s the elevator pitch.

(President Barack Obama will end the policy, someday, maybe.)

All the deets, after the jump.

Study of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Questions Assumptions Behind “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

A new study about the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy questions the assumption that allowing openly gay and lesbian military personnel to serve in the U.S. armed forces could harm military readiness.

The study surveyed military personnel who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and found that having a gay or lesbian colleague in their unit had no significant impact on their unit’s cohesion or readiness. The study, by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of Florida, was published online by the journal Armed Forces and Society.

“Service members said the most important factors for unit cohesion and readiness were the quality of their officers, training and equipment,” said Laura Miller, study co-author and a sociologist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Serving with another service member who was gay or lesbian was not a significant factor that affected unit cohesion or readiness to fight.”

Since the law prohibiting open service of gay and lesbian military personnel is based on the premise that open integration would harm cohesion and readiness, the findings suggest that the U.S. military should revisit the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, said Miller and study co-author Bonnie Moradi, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Florida.

The study found that just 40 percent of the military members surveyed expressed support for the policy, while 28 percent opposed it and 33 percent were neutral—less support than seen in previous surveys.

About 20 percent of those polled said they were aware of a gay or lesbian member in their unit, and about half of those said their presence was well known. In addition, three-quarters of those surveyed said they felt comfortable or very comfortable in the presence of gays or lesbians, according to the study.

The study, “Attitudes of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Toward Gay and Lesbian Service Members,” will appear later in the print edition of Armed Forces and Society. The study was commissioned by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Although RAND has done other research on this topic, this study was the product of a contract directly with the researchers and not through RAND.

Miller and Moradi examined information from a 2006 voluntary online poll conducted by Zogby International of 545 U.S. service members who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The survey sample was pulled from a national panel composed of more than 1 million members and screened to select service members who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The survey sample included personnel from all service branches and from a mix of ranks and occupations. The majority of respondents were on active duty at the time of the survey, but the sample also included reservists and military veterans.

Researchers found no significant differences regarding attitudes toward gay and lesbian military members among members of the different services. Other findings from the study include:

  • Compared to previous studies of military members, support for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban continues to decline. The earliest polls in 1993 showed 75 percent agreed with the ban, 8 percent unsure and 16 percent were against it.
  • The important factors for cohesion and readiness were officer/non-commissioned officer quality, training quality and equipment quality. Beyond these factors, knowing a gay or lesbian person in the unit was not associated significantly with ratings of unit cohesion or readiness.
  • The most frequently endorsed arguments in support of integrating gays and lesbians were those that prioritized performance and qualifications over exclusionary practices.

Moradi and Miller noted that further research is needed to explore these and some of the other findings of the study, such as the general pattern that high-grade enlisted personnel and officers were more supportive of the ban than low- and mid-grade enlisted personnel. Those who reported prior training on the prevention of anti-gay harassment also were more favorable of the ban than those who had not had the training.

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