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SLDN Highlights Flaws in Military Times� “Poll”

The results of a Military Times "poll" cited in a recent Army Times story rely on flawed polling methodology that lacks any basis in credible, empirical data. Further, the article overlooks the growing support across all levels and branches of the armed forces for repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law, which prohibits open service for lesbians and gays. Gary Langer, director of polling for ABC News, writes in a recent blog that the Military Times survey was more of "a woefully incomplete census" of the publication's readers than a true poll.

Reliable and scientifically based polls, on the other hand, consistently reveal a profound and undeniable shift in attitudes among service members, who now support open service regardless of sexual orientation. For example, a December 2006 Zogby poll of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed that 73 percent are comfortable with lesbians and gays. Similarly, the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey reported that 50 percent of junior enlisted personnel believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly. This dramatic change represents a three-fold increase in support for open service among junior enlisted personnel, up from just 16 percent in 1992.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Paul DeMiglio
(202) 621-5408
pdemiglio@sldn.org

January 8, 2009

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Criticizes Flawed Polling Methodology
Military Times' Survey Results Rely on Discredited Data

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The results of a Military Times' "poll" cited in the Dec. 29, 2008 Army Times article ("Troops oppose repeal of ‘don't ask,' " by Brendan McGarry) relies on flawed polling methodology that lacks any basis in credible, empirical data. Further, the article overlooks the growing support across all levels and branches of the armed forces for repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law, which prohibits open service for lesbians and gays.

Gary Langer, director of polling for ABC News, writes in a recent blog that the Military Times' survey was more of "a woefully incomplete census" of the publication's readers than a true poll. In fact, Langer compares the reliability of the poll's methodology to a "rusted carbine," further noting: "And in terms of their political and ideological leanings, the participants look nothing at all like what good data have found."

Reliable and scientifically based polls, on the other hand, consistently reveal a profound and undeniable shift in attitudes among service members, who now support open service regardless of sexual orientation. For example, a December 2006 Zogby poll of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed that 73 percent are comfortable with lesbians and gays. Similarly, the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey reported that 50 percent of junior enlisted personnel believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly. This dramatic change represents a three-fold increase in support for open service among junior enlisted personnel, up from just 16 percent in 1992. The same survey also found that service members "believe sexual orientation is unrelated to job performance."

Since implementation in 1994, DADT has resulted in the discharge of over 12,500 qualified military personnel and has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Each day it becomes more obvious that this discriminatory law erodes military readiness and unit cohesion at a time when attracting and retaining qualified service members, regardless of sexual orientation, is more critical than ever. The time to ensure that all our brave men and women in uniform can serve the country they love, free from discrimination, is long overdue.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and related forms of intolerance. For more information, visit www.sldn.org. A "Guide to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' " for journalists is available at http://sldn.3cdn.net/43b1d9fec919b5918b_1zm6bxv9l.pdf.

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