Majority of Americans Believe Future of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Should be Left Up to Military Commanders, Zogby Poll Finds

By Nick Dean | May 26, 2010 | 8:00 PM EDT

Homosexual activists on the West Lawn of the Capitol during a rally in Washington on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( – Fifty-nine (59) percent of Americans think military leaders, rather than Congress, should be making the decision about the military policy on homosexuality, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Family Research Center.

The Zogby International telephone survey, which was conducted May 17, asked 2,063 people: "As pertains to homosexuals openly serving in the military, do you believe this decision is best made by military leaders or Congress?"

Only 21 percent said Congress should make the decision -- and 18 percent answered neither or "not sure."

Despite that majority, Senate Democratic leaders announced plans on Monday to fast-track a bill that would repeal the current "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy. A vote on that bill could come this week. 

On Monday night, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), along with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), announced they had developed a compromise amendment to their legislative proposal that initiates a fast-paced process to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Levin is expected to add the amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill.  

The newly submitted amendment would repeal the current regulation once a Defense Department working group completes its ongoing review of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in December -- and as long as the president, the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all agree that the repeal is “consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.”
Former generals and military experts gathered at the conservative Family Research Council Tuesday, however, questioning the push for ending the ban on homosexuality in the military, saying that the needs of the military -- and the expert opinions of military commanders -- are being ignored..
“There has been no military service chief input in this process to my knowledge,” retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan said in a telephone news conference held by the Family Research Council Tuesday.
Sheehan called the new process a “de facto repeal” that eliminates all input from military officials and renders the findings of the defense department’s survey useless.
“What this process is saying to (military service chiefs) is that (their) views do not matter,” Sheehan said.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the possible change in political landscape this November is the reason why Senate Democrats are pusing for a fast vote.  
“This is a move to use the military to advance the radical agenda,” Perkins said. “Those that are pushing for this change now are afraid they will not have the majority in November to able to advance this radical policy.”
Retired Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis, a senior fellow for national security for the Family Research Council, was a part of the 1993 taskforce that investigated the military ban on homosexualityaffects a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would have on the American military.
Maginnis said the 1993 task force looked into the effects of homosexuality on retention, recruitment and health risks -- important factors that should be considered in the current rush to repeal the policy.
“We don’t really know what motivates a young man or young woman to join the service,” retired Lt. Gen. Jan Huly said. “I think we need to show the ramifications from the recruiting and retention aspects before we decided anything.”
Perkins said the Family Research Council will be focusing on halting the amendment in the days to come.
“This is a political charade that is taking place here and American people should be outraged that the president and his political appointees are standing in place of the military leaders who should be heard,” Perkins said. “The military leaders, who we trust, should be shaping this policy, not members of Congress.”
Though nearly 60 percent of Americans agree with Perkins, the amendment is likely to come to a vote within days.