No homophobes in foxholes?

Response to “Is the brass ready for gays in the military?”

A small quibble about the Foreign Policy survey question on gays in the military.

Apparently, only 22% of military officers who are field-grade or higher believe that the US should allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

In fact, the question was “Which of the following steps do you support to increase recruiting numbers in the U.S. military?” [emphasis added]. Hard to guess what difference that condition made, but all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that DADT presents a much bigger problem for retention than for recruitment–there doesn’t seem to be a large pool of young gays who’d like to enlist, if only they were welcomed. And a highly publicized repeal might be a disincentive to a substantial number of straight potential enlistees, generational change notwithstanding. [I’m not convinced by the gedankenexperiment that finds otherwise.]

But the winds are blowing as Mark suggests:

With respect to the two attitudes mentioned above, whether service members feel comfortable around gays and lesbians and whether they believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly, the data reveal important shifts. A December 2006 Zogby International survey of 545 service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73 percent are personally comfortable interacting with gays and lesbians. A March 2000 study by Major John W. Bicknell of the Naval Postgraduate School found that between 1994 and 1999, the percentage of U.S. Navy officers who “feel uncomfortable in the presence of homosexuals” decreased from 57.8 percent to 36.4 percent.29 General Wesley Clark confirmed in 2003 that the “temperature of the issue has changed over the decade. People were much more irate about this issue in the early ’90s than I found in the late ’90s, for whatever reason, younger people coming in [to the military]. It just didn’t seem to be the same emotional hot button issue by ’98, ’99, that it had been in ’92, ’93.”30 The data suggest that the majority of service members feel comfortable around gays and lesbians and that, for most of those who do

not feel comfortable, the issue has become less emotionally intense in recent years.