Majority of Troops OK With Gays
BY Kerry Eleveld
October 29 2010 7:20 AM ET
A majority of the military service members surveyed by the Pentagon have indicated they would not leave the military if “don’t ask, don’t tell” was lifted and have few to no concerns about gays and lesbians serving openly, according to NBC and the Associated Press.
NBC’s Richard Engel broke the news Thursday night, telling Rachel Maddow that ending the ban was “not a deal breaker” and “wasn’t that big of deal.”
“The number one answer, first answer was, ‘I don’t care.’ That’s significant,” Engel said.
The Associated Press reported: An internal Pentagon study has found that most U.S. troops and their families don't care whether gays are allowed to serve openly and think the policy of "don't ask, don't tell" could be done away with, according to officials familiar with its findings.
But the AP piece cautioned that “the survey also was expected to reveal challenges the services could face in overturning the long-held policy, including overcoming fierce opposition in some parts of the military even if they represent a minority.”
The results of the survey, which was sent to 400,000 service members, is part of a Pentagon study on how to implement repeal due out December 1, and a senior Pentagon official said last week that the working group was on track to meet the deadline. Pentagon officials have not said exactly how many surveys were ultimately returned, but they did say in August that only about 25% of the troops had submitted responses. An additional survey was sent to 150,000 spouses to measure their reservations about lifting the ban.
The service branch that has registered the most opposition to scrapping the policy is the U.S. Marine Corps. Marine commandant Gen. James Conway has said several times that he believes the policy should remain in place and indicated that if it were to change, the Marine Corps might have to consider building individual barracks rather than bunking by twos. Conway retired his post this month, but his successor, Gen. James Amos, testified that he also opposes ending the ban.
Watch the video with Richard Engel and Rachel Maddow.