Military Times poll shows sharp decline in support for DADT
February 7th, 2010
The Military Times is a newspaper targeted at career military personnel. For the past several years the paper has been surveying its readership on the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Tomorrow they will be releasing the latest results and today they pre-reported the findings.
Opposition to gays serving openly in the military has declined sharply among those wearing the uniform today, the Military Times newspapers will report Monday.
An exclusive survey of some 3,000 active-duty troops shows such opposition has fallen sharply from nearly two-thirds (65 percent) in 2004 to about half (51 percent) today. The survey results appear Monday in Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.
Those opposed to open service will likely latch onto this survey, ignore the trend, and claim that this is conclusive proof that half of America’s servicemen do not want to work with gay soldiers. But, as we noted in 2008, this survey is not even close to being representative of military personnel. In fact, only 47% of the survey participants are currently members of the military.
This latest survey, however is closer to reflecting servicepersons as a whole. The respondants in this year’s poll were on average 4 years younger than those in 2008. And the drop in support for the DADT policy between 2008 and 2010 nearly mirrors that in the drop in percentage of participants over the age of 40, about 10%.
The new survey is also more extensive than prior years. It asks a number of additional questions relating to gay service personnel. After deleting the veterans, lawmakers, family members and others, the following can be gleaned from this non-representative study:
- 95% of participants identify as heterosexual. Around 2% identify as gay or bisexual and the rest ticked the “decline to answer” option.
- Attitude about allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military:
- Of those who oppose open service, 54% believe that sexual oriention is a choice while only 34% of those who favor open service have that belief.
- If the ban were overturned, about 38% believe that gay couples should receive the same benefits as straight couples and about 44% oppose the idea.
- The most challenging issues for the military should the policy be overturned are believe to be reducing harassment against openly gay personnel, and reducing violence and hate crimes against gay personnel.
- 56% know that there are gay people in their unit, 17% do not believe that there are and the rest aren’t certain.
- Of those who found out about a gay person in their unit, 2% reported them up the chain of command.
14% strongly favor
36% strongly oppose
There were also a number of subsets of if-then questions which sought to get opinions about levels of comfort or discomfort. I did not attempt to make meaning of them.
Based on this non-representative survey, it would appear that about half of career military service personnel are opposed to open service, about one third strongly opposed. However, very few are actually willing to end a fellow soldier’s career when the subject becomes personal rather than theoretical.