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Vaiana Bernard Rostker, a RAND senior fellow, was formerly U. undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked us to update the report to inform a Pentagon working group that had been established to review the issues associated with repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. House of Representatives in voting to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.any of us at RAND were unpopular in the eyes of some U. military leaders when we issued our first report on gays in the military in 1993. But in the ensuing 17 years, our 1993 report became required reading for anyone interested in the topic. Secretary Gates endorsed the Pentagon group’s report and recommendations. In one respect, the story of RAND’s long involvement is one of endurance, showing how a government contractor can do things that a government cannot always do for itself: gather objective information, feed it into high-level deliberations, and sustain a trusted relationship despite the delivery of unwanted evidence.This nationally representative survey, which has followed 20,745 adolescents since high school graduation dating back to 1994 and has asked them about their sexual orientation and military service, allows us to estimate what fraction of military men and women identify themselves as gay compared with that of those who have no military service.Figure 3 shows our best estimates of the fractions of men and women in the civilian population and in the military who self-identify as gay or bisexual, based on the survey data. Mary Vaiana is communications director for RAND Health. The Pentagon working group members wanted timely information to use in their own deliberations, and they received our report as they started writing theirs. Consistent with the information in our report, the Pentagon group recommended repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and incorporated much of our material into its own report (in its 151 pages, the word “RAND” appears 109 times). Final repeal now awaits certification by Obama, Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that repeal will not harm military readiness, followed by a 60-day waiting period. Susan Hosek is codirector of the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research. Between March 1 and October 1 of last year, more than 50 RAND researchers from a wide range of disciplines met with leaders of seven allied militaries; visited domestic law enforcement organizations, federal agencies, private corporations, and universities; held focus groups with service members; conducted a confidential Internet survey of gay and lesbian service members; tracked changes in public attitudes; and scoured the academic literature to update the conclusions of our 1993 report. Four days later, President Obama signed the legislation into law.The fraction of self-identified gay or bisexual men in the military is close to that in the civilian population in the same age group — 2.2 percent of men in the military versus 3.2 percent in the general population.
Public opinion has always been a core issue in the debate concerning Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Figure 1 shows that today, in contrast to 1993, more than half of Americans support the right of gay men and women to choose their lifestyle, and almost everyone agrees that gay people should have equal rights in job opportunities.
Public opinion data also show an increase among those who favor allowing gay people to serve openly in the military.