Today in Congressional Hearings on whether the Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell policy is effective or counter-productive, anti-gay activist Elaine Donnelly claimed that polls support her contention that military personnel don’t wish to serve with openly gay servicemen. The Army Times reports
Donnelly, head of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy group that focuses on military personnel issues and a longtime opponent of gays in the military, said the annual Military Times poll of service members consistently shows that between 57 percent and 59 percent of service members oppose allowing gays to serve openly in uniform.
But the poll that Donnelly quotes is not a representative poll of service members. We analyzed Donnelly’s claims in February, and found the following:
Using the 2000 statistics of the Heath Status of the United States Army (and assuming that there is not a strong variance between services) we can compare the Military Times poll to the Army’s report of those who actually serve.
- Army average age – 28; MT poll participant average age – 37
- 44% of service members between 17 and 24; 7% of MT poll participants fell in this category
- 8% of army personnel are 40 or older; 41% of MT poll participants are 40 or older
- 51% of army personnel are married; 82% of MT poll participants are married
As the Military Times put it, “The annual poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional career military.”
In other words, this is NOT a poll of active service persons who are on the front lines eating, sleeping, and showering with their mates. In fact, only 2% of those polled lived in barracks. Unlike the Zogby poll, the Military Times poll is of those who have made the military their career.
Perhaps Donnelly isn’t edequately skilled to determine for herself that the Military Times poll is non-representative. Or perhaps she deliberately uses deception as a tool to advance her anti-gay agenda.
But in either case she should not be testifying before Congress.