Feb 2010 | Gays in the Military — The Sordid Facts

President Barack Obama has called for repeal of the current Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) ban on homosexuals serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. As of February 2010, he has commissioned the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff to find a suitable way to eliminate the ban, perhaps within the next year. FRI has published previous research indicating the problems associated with homosexuals serving in the military, based on surveys of veterans.1 We have also critically examined the Humphrey-Studds study,2 which set out to show that the military ban was unnecessary, but upon closer examination proved just the opposite.3

Despite the evidence, President Obama seems determined to get rid of DADT. But at what risk to the U.S. military? This report examines very recent data on sexual assault reports in the military, as compiled by the Department of Defense (DoD),4 as well as telling and relevant testimony from eyewitnesses who have served. None of the evidence suggests much has changed since DADT was enacted, or that there is any justification for removing the ban on open service in the military by homosexuals.

Proportion of Homosexuals in U.S. Military

To examine the relative risk of homosexual assault by military personnel, estimates are needed of the composition of the armed forces by sexual orientation. Since the military formally excludes those who engage in homosexual sex, no official records are kept, and DADT forces those with homosexual preferences to keep quiet or else face expulsion. To sidestep this obstacle, we used weighted estimates from two federal self-report surveys: the 1996 National Household Survey of Drug Abuse (NHSDA; 12,381 respondents aged 18-59) and the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG; 12,571 respondents aged 15-44). Each survey asked about military service (though the NSFG only asked this question of men), and each indexed same-sex sexual behavior.

Homosexuals were counted as those who said they had had ‘same-sex sex in the last 12 months.’ To account for the lack of female respondents in the NSFG on the subject of military experience, figures from DoD were used to assume that 13.5% of military personnel was female in 2002. Results from the two surveys are presented in Table 1, along with an adjusted average of the two. To compute the adjusted average, both sets of survey estimates were first proportionally scaled to match the percentage of female military personnel in 2002. Then the scaled female estimates from the NHSDA were imputed to the NSFG prior to simple averaging.

This adjusted average was taken as the basis for assessing the relative risk of homosexual sexual assault, although the proportion of homosexuals is likely somewhat elevated due to the non-inclusion of active military personnel in the sampling frames of both federal surveys. Table 1 also includes a newer estimate computed by Gates,5 published under the auspices of the pro-gay Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School. It employs different national surveys, but still utilizes an indirect method of estimation. It also uses tallies as of 2008 for the proportion of women in the U.S. military. These have steadily risen in recent years.

The estimates for male homosexuals with military service are fairly similar, while the more recent estimate of lesbians from the Williams Institute is somewhat higher than that derived from the NHSDA. This could be due to increasing proportions of lesbians (and/or women in general) in the military (see, for instance, the testimony below) or simply a sampling fluctuation attributable to the small samples of lesbians captured in national surveys.

Table 1. Estimated Prevalence of Homosexuals in U.S. Military


Straight Men


Straight Women


1996 NHSDA





2002 NSFG



Adj. Mean Estimate





Gates, 2010





DoD Sexual Assaults Involving Military Personnel, FY2007, FY2008, FY2009

Table 2 compiles sexual assaults reported by DoD for 2007, 2008, and 2009 in so-called “unrestricted reports.” The notation “X on X” signifies the category/sex of perpetrator versus the category/sex of victim. Our analysis assumes that all same-sex sexual assaults were committed by homosexuals and that all opposite-sex sexual assaults were perpetrated by heterosexuals. Given the nearly 3 million individuals serving across the armed forces from year to year, the number of sexual assault reports is fairly small. However, most analysts assume that sexual assault is a highly underreported crime, and DoD makes this assumption as well within the military. Therefore, the figures reported in Table 2 are likely to represent only a fraction of the actual number of assaults.

Table 2. Sexual Assault Reports Across DoD for FY2007 — FY2009

Category/Type of Assault

M on F (%)

M on M (%)

F on M (%)

F on F (%)


Homosexual (%)


Service on Service

1006 (87.3)

105 (9.3)

6 (0.53)

6 (0.53)


111 (9.9)

Service on Non-Service

559 (97.4)

13 (2.3)

2 (0.35)


15 (2.6)

Non-Service on Service

55 (80.9)

12 (17.6)

1 (1.5)


13 (19.1)

Unknown on Service

62 (82.7)

13 (17.3)


13 (17.3)


1682 (91.4)

143 (7.8)

6 (0.33)

9 (0.49)


152 (8.3)


Service on Service

1047 (90.4)

96 (8.3)

8 (0.69)

7 (0.60)


103 (8.9)

Service on Non-Service

665 (98.4)

10 (1.5)

1 (0.15)


11 (1.6)

Non-Service on Service

106 (89.8)

7 (5.9)

4 (3.4)

1 (0.85)


8 (6.8)

Unknown on Service

46 (79.3)

10 (17.2)

2 (3.4)


10 (17.2)


1864 (92.7)

123 (6.1)

14 (0.70)

9 (0.45)


132 (6.6)


Service on Service

1175 (87.9)

140 (10.5)

7 (0.52)

14 (1.0)


154 (11.5)

Service on Non-Service

740 (98.8)

6 (0.80)

3 (0.40)


11 (1.6)

Non-Service on Service

105 (83.3)

15 (11.9)

6 (4.8)


15 (11.9)

Unknown on Service

41 (77.4)

12 (22.6)


12 (22.6)


2061 (91.0)

173 (7.6)

13 (0.57)

17 (0.75)


190 (8.4)

Relative Risk of Homosexual Sexual Assault

To gauge the relative risk of sexual assault involving military personnel by homosexual practitioners, we computed approximate odds ratios6 in FY2007, FY2008, and FY2009 for the categories of total assaults and ‘Service on Service’ (signifying an intra-service assault). Estimates were computed separately for male and female perpetrators. These results are presented in Table 3 and 4. Table 3 utilizes our estimates of the proportion of homosexual servicemen and servicewomen, while Table 4 employs the Williams Institute estimates.

In each table, the odds ratio represents the relative odds that the actions of a homosexual practitioner would generate a sexual assault report compared to the actions of a non-homosexual, same gender counterpart. Thus, in 2007 for intra-service assaults, male homosexuals were nearly 6 times as likely to be perpetrators as heterosexual males (note that this is a statement about relative risk and not a statement about absolute numbers of cases; the odds ratios are designed to adjust for the large differential in raw numbers of heterosexual and homosexual service members). The confidence intervals assume — as does DoD — that the reported assaults are only a sample of the true number that occur each year; further, that there is year-to-year variance in the number of reports. They do not fully account for the fact that the composition of the military by sexual orientation has been estimated, rather than already known. Any confidence interval containing the value 1 suggests a non-significant (NS) difference in risk of sexual assault. Entire intervals exceeding 1 suggest a significant increase in sexual assault risk due to homosexual practitioners.

Regardless of which estimates of homosexual prevalence in the U.S. military were used, Tables 3 and 4 indicate a significantly higher relative risk of sexual assault by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, for all three years. For males, the increased odds range from 3 to over 9 times the risk. For females — comparing lesbians versus heterosexual females — the increased odds are even greater, ranging from 4 to over 100 times the risk. Each comparison was highly statistically significant (p < 0.001). Results for intra-service (i.e., “Service on Service”) sexual assault reports are also graphed in Figures 1 and 2.

Table 3. Odds Ratios of Sexual Assault Risk Using FRI Prevalence Estimates


Category of Assault

Est. % Homosexual

Odds Ratio

95% Confidence Int.


Service on Service



(4.71, 7.04)



(3.96, 5.57)


Service on Service


(4.10, 6.23)



(3.03, 4.37)


Service on Service


(5.52, 7.84)



(3.97, 5.41)


Service on Service



(7.02, 67.5)



(11.6, 91.7)


Service on Service


(6.90, 52.5)



(6.06, 32.3)


Service on Service


(17.6, 107.9)



(13.8, 58.6)

Table 4. Odds Ratios of Sexual Assault Risk Using Williams Institute Prevalence Estimates


Category of Assault

Est. % Homosexual

Odds Ratio

95% Confidence Int.


Service on Service



(5.65, 8.46)



(4.75, 6.69)


Service on Service


(4.93, 7.49)



(3.64, 5.25)


Service on Service


(6.63, 9.42)



(4.77, 6.51)


Service on Service



(4.89, 47.0)



(8.09, 63.9)


Service on Service


(4.81, 36.6)



(4.22, 22.5)


Service on Service


(12.2, 75.1)



(9.63, 40.8)



Eyewitness Testimony

Corroborating the data above on disproportionate risk of homosexual sexual assault in the U.S. military are the following three sets of eyewitness testimony. The first is a personal interview we conducted with a woman who left basic training in late 2009. Second is the testimony of Col. Richard H. Black (USA Ret.) – as reported in the Washington Times – who, from 1992-1994, served as Chief of the Army’s Criminal Law Division at the Pentagon. Lastly, we document the testimony of Randy Shilts, acclaimed as perhaps the premiere historian of the gay movement.

The personal interview was recorded February 1-2, 2010 by Dr. Paul Cameron. The comments from a woman-in-training, speaking about her experiences in 2009, have been slightly edited to protect her identity:

My experiences in BCT and AIT with homosexuals was and is awkward! Of course at first I didn’t know who was lesbian and who wasn’t, so I didn’t think much of who I was showering with. Then, noticing that they were looking at me a little too much made things clear as to their preferences.

It was uncomfortable in so many ways. When your only choice is to shower in very close quarters with 60 other females, it is already embarrassing enough. Add that over half of them are lesbians, and you end up with very difficult feelings. It is like I was showering with 40 males staring at me and making comments. That isn’t acceptable for males to do to females in the military, so it shouldn’t be for females to do to each other!

Living with them and changing clothes near them made me self conscious and uncomfortable. The ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy is practically void because everyone tells. You don’t even have to ask. What made it worse was when males talked about our bodies – things that the homosexual females had told them…. having a female whistle at you is not appreciated!

Dr. Cameron: How many of the women in your group have been discharged or processed for discharge because of homosexuality?

Well there were 60 females that I stayed in the same barracks with, and 60 more down the hall. Out of the total 120 females, I know that at least 50 were found to be homosexuals. Many more we weren’t sure about.

It really depended on what they did openly that determined their punishments. Some that actually got caught in sexual action were chaptered out of the army. A chapter 11 I believe. Others that were caught kissing or hand holding were given company grade article 15’s which gave them 14 days extra duty. The ones that were chaptered ended up even more openly homosexual because they had nothing to lose at that point. The ones that had article 15’s had two different outcomes. The ones that didn’t want to be in the [armed forces] just continued to misbehave so they could get chapter packets. Others really wanted to be in the military so they kept their preferences to themselves. All in all, I would guess that about 20 got chaptered out and 30 had article 15’s. The main problem was that the chapters had to remain in basic training until their packets went through and were approved. So some stayed in for all 12 weeks and caused trouble the entire time.

Dr. Cameron: Was there any instance or instances of officer (NCO) or otherwise having sex with one or more of these recruits?

No one in my company had sexual relations with their NCOs or chain of command. My whole battalion was really squared away, I’m not sure about any of the others.

Dr. Cameron: Was there any hanky-panky between any of the recruits and officers?

No, there was no fraternization between privates and NCO’s in my company but I heard rumors about it in another company. That wasn’t homosexual, though. The private was given UCMJ action for her conduct and did not graduate. The drill sergeant did not accept her offers.”

Dr. Cameron: Were you approached to participate in lesbian activities?

I was approached several times by lesbians who wanted me to participate in their nonsense. Of course, I immediately reported that back to my drill sergeant. I do think you need to know that the cadre at basic training did everything they could do to stop the homosexuals and they gave us frequent briefings on harrassment and homosexuality and how it was not acceptable. My platoon’s drill sergeant was our company’s EO and she was always doing all she could to help those of us that were being pressured.

Col. Richard H. Black (ret.)

Col. Richard H. Black (ret.) wrote the following column in the Washington Times on February 2, 2010.7

President Obama’s promise to repeal the ban on gays in the military has caused tension among those responsible for military discipline. Former Marine Commandant, Gen. Carl E. Mundy, and 1,160 retired admirals and generals strongly oppose the change.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was tasked by the President with implementing the change. But that task has proven difficult. On Jan. 15, 2010, The Washington Times reported that ‘Adm. Mullen was unable to get the full backing of other senior leaders during an unusual meeting of the top officers from each branch of the military….’ There are good reasons why top officers, including the current Marine Commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, oppose the change.

From 1992-94, I served as Chief of the Army’s Criminal Law Division at the Pentagon.  During that time, Pres. Clinton ignited a firestorm when he tried to force DOD to admit known homosexuals into the military. Key obstacles were the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Department of Defense regulations stating that ‘homosexuality is incompatible with military service.’ The UCMJ prohibits indecent assaults, indecent acts, indecent liberties with children, and sodomy. Each of those rules makes good sense in the unique military environment.

Even as Congress was wrestling with Clinton’s proposal on gays, officials were dealing with a major homosexual scandal at Ft. Hood, Texas. Gays had advertised a Ft. Hood restroom as a gathering spot for casual consensual sex. In just seven days, criminal investigators observed 60 men publically committing serious acts on post. Officers, NCOs and enlisted personnel participated. Many wore uniforms displaying their insignia of rank. The Army dealt with the matter discreetly, and the Chief of Public Affairs referred to it as a ‘potentially explosive issue.’ It was ‘explosive’ because it contradicted the Administration’s campaign to portray gay GIs as ‘perfect gentlemen – a boon to the force.’

At the Criminal Law Division, facts contradicted that party line. Worldwide criminal reports documented serious offenses being frequently committed by homosexual GIs. To be certain, gays weren’t the only soldiers committing crimes. But the Administration’s proposals would have placed homosexuals in situations of forced intimacy, where same-sex attractions invite serious trouble.

Activists claim the risk of crimes from same-sex offenders is no greater than it is between servicemen and women. But they are wrong. Women are not required to sleep and shower under the watchful eyes of men.

Gays dismiss concerns regarding privacy in showers and in the barracks. But the risk is high. At Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1991, two homosexual recruits caught a lone soldier showering at night. They violently sodomized the soldier, forcing him to submit by strangling him with a bath towel. At the time of trial, the victim was hospitalized under psychiatric care.

Recruit training is especially problematic. Male recruits had to physically subdue one homosexual drill instructor at an Army base to keep him from raping a male recruit as that recruit struggled to escape out a second-story window. At Marine boot camp, an aggressive female recruit was discharged for sexually touching and soliciting fellow Marines. Her intimidating manner caused fear and distrust throughout her platoon. At Quantico, a company gunnery sergeant sexually attacked a young officer candidate who had stayed back at the barracks while his platoon was out training.

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke firmly against dropping the ban on homosexuals, stating that it would cause ‘disruption’ and ‘serious problems.’ (Skelton opposes repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ TheHill.com Jan. 15, 2010.) Ike Skelton is correct.

And assaults aren’t the only problem. Few things threaten unit cohesion more than consensual sex between gays while others are present. The Ft. Hood incident demonstrates how public sex among homosexual officers, NCOs and men destroys respect for rank. How would men respond to such officers and noncoms in battle?

If widespread misconduct of that severity could happen with the prohibitions now in effect, how much worse would it become if consensual homosexuality were lawfully sanctioned – and made the subject of sensitivity training?

Discipline will suffer if gays are permitted to serve. I learned the importance of discipline on the drill fields of Parris Island and during fierce fighting with the 1st Marine Regiment.  Later, in the disciplinary collapse following the Vietnam War, I spent many years helping rebuild discipline in the Army. Experience shows that highly-disciplined units are important in garrison – and vital in battle.

President Clinton practically brought down his presidency trying to lift the ban. After an exhaustive national debate, the U.S. House of Representatives determined that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. Congress then enacted Title 10 U.S. Code Section 654, which states that homosexuals are ineligible for military service. That ban is an essential element of military discipline. It must be retained.

Randy Shilts, Gay Historian

Col. Black’s testimony jibes well with that provided by Randy Shilts,8 acclaimed historian of the gay movement. Shilts reported that restroom shenanigans similar to those at Ft. Hood occurred at the Pentagon:

In the bathroom on corridor 6, just inside the five-acre central courtyard, men literally stood in line outside the stalls during the lunch hour, waiting their turn to engage in some hanky-panky. (p. 184)

No one ever reported that when blacks were excluded from the military they longed for the ‘right’ to have sex in public facilities. No, they simply wanted to be treated as soldiers. Yet Shilts exults in the fact that gays in the Pentagon had taken over at least one of its public restrooms. Further, that gays “literally” stand in line outside the stalls during the lunch hour, waiting their turn to engage in quasi-public sex.

Whether Shilts got the exact location of the bathroom correct is irrelevant (unless he was fabricating out of whole cloth). Psychiatrists and psychologists contend that homosexuals, their desires, and their activities are ‘normal,’ making discrimination against homosexuals ‘unfair.’ Yet how many ‘normal’ individuals spend their lunch hour engaging in quasi-public sex?

Most people manage to focus on work while they are ‘on the job.’ According to Shilts, not so these homosexuals, who were apparently willing to ‘stand in line’ for sex. While Shilts decried the ‘prejudice’ that people have against homosexuality, what kind of prejudice is it when there are members of the military who feel not only a necessity to “stand in line” for sex on their lunch break, but who also don’t consider what they are doing as disruptive to military life?

Shilts documented what he considers all kinds of involvement by homosexuals in the military, from gay admirals to graduates of all three military academies, to serving in the astronaut program.

Over the past twenty years, as the gay community has taken form in cities across the nation, a vast gay subculture has emerged within the military, in every branch of the service, among both officers and enlisted. (p. 3)

Unfortunately, those who engage in homosexuality seldom do the hard work of getting married and raising kids, and have to live off the efforts of those who do. The evidence is clear that homosexuals in the military are at much higher risk for perpetrating sexual assaults, and that they are disruptive to military life. Yet, homosexuals claim that ‘civil rights’ should allow them to openly join the military should they so choose. Indeed, they claim theirs is a struggle against the ‘prejudiced’ and ‘bigots.’ The sordid facts say otherwise.

  1. Cameron P, Cameron K, & Proctor K (1988) Homosexuals in the armed forces. Psychological Reports, 62:211-219
  2. Humphrey MA (1990) My Country, My Right to Serve: Experiences of Gay Men and Women in the Military, World War II to the Present. NY: Harper-Collins
  3. Gays in the military: redux (2005) Family Research Report, 20(4):1-6
  4. Dept. of Defense (2008) FY07 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military; Dept. of Defense (2009) FY08 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military; Dept. of Defense (2010) Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military
  5. Gates GJ (2010) Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Men and Women in the US Military: Updated Estimates. UCLA Law School, The Williams Institute
  6. Agresti A (2002) Categorical Data Analysis. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
  7. Black RH (2010) Danger to disciplineWashington Times
  8. Shilts R (1993) Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military. NY: St. Martin’s