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Family Research Council Finds Gay Service Members To Be Extra Dangerous

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(Flickr / CampusProgress )

The Family Research Council, the scientific defenders of “faith, family and freedom,” have released a highly questionable study claiming that “homosexuals serving in the army are three times more likely than heterosexuals to commit sexual assaults.” Joshua Tucker at The Monkey Cage gives a few reasons why this study may be seriously flawed. As he summarizes the report:

The central point of the report seems to be new data analysis that shows that 8.15% percent of sexual assaults in the military in Fiscal Year 2009 were of a same sex nature (p.6), the vast majority of which involved two men (see footnote 4). The report also cites data showing that 2.8% of men and 1.4% of women in the US general population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. On this basis, the report claims that “This suggests that homosexuals in the military are about three times more likely to commit sexual assaults than heterosexuals are”

Among the flaws is that there is no evidence that all same-sex assaults were committed by homosexuals. In fact, it seems entirely possible that some of those assaults victimized homosexuals or were perpetrated as a violent form of domination against someone of any sexual orientation (which is what rape is).

Tucker lists a few more potential errors in the study, but one glaring complication is the fact that incidents of assault overall are much higher in the military than in the civilian population. This is a widely publicized fact which indicates that there are a lot of straight individuals attacking each other as well, and it goes without saying, women are the victims in the majority of these assaults (a CBS report last year reported that “One in three female soldiers will experience sexual assault while serving in the military, compared to one in six women in the civilian world.”) Moreover, punishment for assault and rape is really low in the military. As Change.org noted today, a Sargent was acquitted of rape even after he admitted to sexual conduct with the victim, which basically indicates that the military often does a poor job punishing its men, which certainly doesn’t discourage them or others from attacking fellow service members. Only a small percentage of reported assaults result in a trial, the CBS piece mentions, and far less a conviction.

The Family Research Council uses it’s data to warn against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (always trust a study with a political agenda):

there is already a significant problem of homosexual misconduct in the military. This problem can only become worse if the current law is repealed and homosexuals are openly welcomed (and even granted special protections) within the military, as homosexual activists are demanding.

The language here – “homosexual activists” – as if no one but gays want to repeal DADT, denotes the bias of the study. But, despite it’s flaws, the study does make a few points, perhaps unconsciously.

First, that sexual assault in the military is a problem. Second, just like straight people, gay people may have a higher incidence of assault in the military than outside it. Therefore, gays might be just like the rest of us – part of a widespread problem the military seriously needs to address. So given the policy proposals in the study and the high risk women in uniform face, it would only be fair to kick straight people out of the military along with the victims of DADT.

Pema Levy is a staff writer for Campus Progress.

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