Pentagon to send 'don't ask, don't tell' surveys to spouses of servicemembers

The Pentagon plans to survey approximately 150,000 military spouses about the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. 

In a statement, Department of Defense spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the surveys "will help the military leadership assess the impacts, if any, a change in the law ... might have on family readiness and military community life."

The survey comes as part of a larger reevaluation of the controversial policy, which the House voted to repeal in May as part of a defense authorization bill. The policy prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. 

A vote by the Senate and a review by the Pentagon are required for any change in the policy to become official. Smith said the information from the survey will be used to develop a "contingency plan" if "don't ask" is eventually repealed.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked a working group led by the Pentagon's head lawyer, Jeh Johnson, and the commander of U.S. Army Europe, Gen. Carter Ham, to study the impact of repeal. The group will consider the spousal surveys as part of its work.  

Approximately 400,000 troops received another survey on "Don't ask, don't tell" in July. Groups that represent gay and lesbian troops and veterans vehemently opposed that survey, calling it biased and a risk to troops currently serving. 

"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," Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said upon the survey's release in July.

"The survey isn't even just slightly bad," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, after a portion was leaked. "It's far more skewed than we even expected it to be, given the working group's commitment to staying neutral."

Both the Defense Department and Adm. Mike Mullen, who supports repealing "don't ask," announced the spousal survey via Twitter Tuesday. Their tweets linked to a Facebook photo of the envelope the survey will come in.

"Please take the survey and return it; your participation is vital," the caption on the photo read.

The mailers will be sent on Aug. 20. Spouses are requested to complete them by Sept. 27, and the working group led by Johnson and Ham will report back to Gates by Dec. 1.