Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions about gays in the military. We’ve already looked at questions concerned with religion and the moral attitudes of various demographic groups. (Scroll down to see our 4 earlier posts this week.)
But we may be overlooking some big questions! How about: Can you show me the money?
And: What do men and women now serving in the military think about this?
The answers may surprise you! First, the money question: Would ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) save money?
Yes—quite a bit. The first 10 years of the DADT program cost about $363 million. This includes “separation travel” once a serviceman or woman is ousted, plus training and recruiting costs that are part of this change in personnel. (See breakdown of costs in Wikipedia.)
Whatever your attitude toward homosexuality may be—that’s clearly a ton of money that could be better spent. And, these estimates don’t include the increased difficulty of recruiting new personnel due to DADT. That’s because many patriotic Americans who want to sign up—just don’t because of the policy.
But what do our current servicemen and women feel about homosexuals serving openly?
Only 26% favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, according to a December 2006 Zogby poll. About a third of those polled were neutral. And, 37% disagree or strongly disagree.
About one-fourth said that they knew for certain that someone was gay or lesbian in their units. How did they know? The majority said the person told them directly (59%) or somebody else told them—that is, hearsay (32%).
A large majority of those who knew someone who was homosexual said that the impact of their morale or the unit’s morale was neutral. Few said it had a positive impact. About a quarter said it had a negative impact on their morale or the unit’s morale.
So, there you have it: The objective dollars-and-cents costs of DADT, and the subjective experience of those who serve.
What do you think of these?