67 Percent of Marine Combat Forces Say Putting Homosexuals in Their Units Will Hurt Their Effectiveness in the Field, Says DOD Report

December 20, 2010 - 1:23 PM

U.S. Marine in Afghanistan

A U.S. Marine Corps sergeant in action in Sangin, Afghanistan on Nov. 9, 2010. (Defense Department photo/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury, U.S. Marine Corps)

(CNSNews.com) - 66.5 percent of U.S. Marine combat forces surveyed by a special Defense Department working group said that putting homosexuals in their units would hurt their effectiveness in the field, and 47.8 percent of Marines in combat units specifically said putting homosexuals in their units would hurt their effectiveness “in an intense combat situation.”

The U.S. Congress voted last week to repeal the law—commonly known as Don’t Ask, Don’ Tell—that barred homosexuals from serving in the military.

Earlier this year, after President Barack Obama said in his 2010 State of the Union Address that he wanted to end the ban on homosexuals in the military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put together a special working group to begin making plans for integrating homosexuals into the Armed Forces if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were in fact repealed.

The working group secured the services of Westat Corporation, a polling company, to survey more than 115,000 active duty service members on their attitudes and views about integrating homosexuals into the military. Among those surveyed by Westat were 989 men serving in Marine combat units.

Question 71a in Westat’s survey of these Marine combat forces read as follows: “If Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and you are working with a Service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how, if at all, would it affect your immediate unit's effectiveness at completing its mission ... In a field environment or out to sea?” The Marines were given 6 options for answering: Very positively, Positively, Equally as positively as negatively, Negatively, Very negatively, No effect.

The Marines in combat units answered as follows:

Very positively: 2.9 percent

Positively: 3.0 percent

Equally as positively as negatively: 18.8 percent

Negatively: 23.9 percent

Very negatively: 42.6 percent

No effect: 8.7 percent

Only a combined 5.9 percent said putting a homosexual in their combat unit would have a positive or very positive effect on their ability to complete their mission in the field, while 66.5 percent said it would have either a negative or very negative effect.

Almost half of the Marine combat forces surveyed specifically said placing a homosexual in their unit would have a negative or very negative effect on the unit’s effectiveness even in “an intense combat situation.”

Question 71c in Westat’s survey of Marine combat forces read as follows: “If Don’t Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and you are working with a Service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how, if at all, would it affect your immediate unit's effectiveness at completing its mission... In an intense combat situation”

The Marines in combat units answered as follows:

Very positively: 3.2 percent

Positively: 6.0 percent

Equally as positively as negatively: 28.4 percent

Negatively: 17.8 percent

Very negatively: 30.0 percent

No effect: 16.7 percent

Last week, before Congress voted to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military, Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marines, told reporters that he opposed lifting the ban because of what he had heard from Marines about it.

"The forces that wear this uniform, that are in the middle of what I call the real deal, came back and told their commandant of the Marine Corps they have concerns," Gen. Amos told the reporters. "That's all I need. I don't need a staff study. I don't need to hire three PhDs to tell me what to interpret it," he said. "If they have concerns, I do, too. It's as simple as that."

Gen. Amos said the distraction of having homosexuals in the ranks could cost Marines their lives. “Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives. That’s the currency of this fight,” said Gen. Amos. “I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”

To see the full results from the survey of U.S. Marines on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell click here.