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UPDATE: SLDN Statement on Pentagon Survey of Troops on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2010
Trevor Thomas: (616) 430-2030 or trevor@sldn.org
Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or pdemiglio@sldn.org

UPDATE
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Statement on Pentagon Survey of Troops on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
“At this time SLDN cannot recommend that lesbian, gay, or bisexual service members participate in any survey”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), released an updated statement today on the Pentagon survey of troops on DADT.

Statement from Army Veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

"As a legal services group, our focus is on ensuring adequate legal protections for those gay and lesbian service members that participate in the surveys. We continue to have discussions with DOD and are working to make sure gay and lesbian service members are protected. At this time, our warning stands that gay and lesbian service members should not take the survey unless adequate legal protections are put in place.

"We have made clear from the beginning that no survey of the troops should be done. Surveying the troops is unprecedented; it did not happen in 1948 when President Truman ended segregation and it did not happen in 1976 when the service academies opened to women. Even when the military placed women on ships at sea, the Pentagon did not turn to a survey on how to bring about that cultural change.

"Now in the field, the survey is a fait accompli. The question today is what will the Pentagon Working Group do with the results? The working group was tasked to provide the Secretary of Defense with a set of recommendations to implement open service. We will soon learn to what extent this survey will identify potential issues with open service. No one should be surprised if a number of prejudices come to light in these surveys."

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SLDN warning issued on July 8th remains in place:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), released the following statement today after learning the Department of Defense is launching a survey to troops concerning DADT. Late last week, SLDN asked the Department of Defense and the Pentagon Working Group for the text of the surveys, more information on possible certificates of confidentiality, and whether DOD or PWG could guarantee immunity from DADT and other armed services rules and regulations for service members who are inadvertently "outed" by the surveys. The Department of Defense was unable to satisfy our request.

Statement from Army Veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“A number of service members have contacted SLDN to seek guidance on surveys concerning the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell -- the discriminatory law barring gay and lesbian service members from serving with integrity. At this time SLDN cannot recommend that lesbian, gay, or bisexual service members participate in any survey being administered by the Department of Defense, the Pentagon Working Group, or any third-party contractors. While the surveys are apparently designed to protect the individual’s privacy, there is no guarantee of privacy and DOD has not agreed to provide immunity to service members whose privacy may be inadvertently violated or who inadvertently outs himself or herself. If a service member still wishes to participate, he or she should only do so in a manner that does not reveal sexual orientation.”

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PENTAGON STATEMENT ON INVESTIGATIONS AND DISCHARGES: In a Denver Post story on June 9, 2010, Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson, said: "The law is still in effect, and if someone were to out themselves, we would have to begin the discharge process." Link to story: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_15256223

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Gay and lesbian service members with questions on repeal are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’ guide is available here.

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