Serving with Integrity: The rationale for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Published in the Military Law Review Vol. 203:

"An estimated 66,000 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals (GLB) are currently serving the American military. Many of them, like Sergeant
Hughes, find it difficult to bear the heavy burdens of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which is a federal statute and military policy prohibiting
recruiters from asking individuals about their sexual orientation and preventing GLB servicemembers from revealing their sexual orientation
through word or deed. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell bans GLB servicemembers from (1) engaging in homosexual acts, (2) stating that
they are homosexual, or (3) marrying a person of the same sex.  Underlying the statute, 10 U.S.C. § 654, is the proposition that allowing
the service of individuals who have a “propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts [will] create an unacceptable risk to the high standards
of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

"Despite its stated rationale, DADT has come under fire in recent years by active duty servicemembers, civilians, veterans, and political
and military leaders, some of whom were involved in its very implementation in 1993. Current military leaders publicly dispute the
policy rationale that has supported DADT since the early 90s. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual combat veterans returning from deployments have
publicly “come out of the closet,” providing testimony about their experiences that many members of Congress have considered with great
interest. Moreover, public support for lifting the ban, even among political conservatives, is high, prompting legislation in support of
repeal at both the House and Senate levels.20 Even the Commander-in-Chief has pledged to eliminate the policy based on its detrimental
effects.21 Given these significant concerns and ideological shifts, many contend, as does this author, that all three prongs of the ban against
acknowledged GLB personnel should be lifted immediately and in their entirety."

..."In 2008, Retired Army Major General Vance Coleman, an African-American who spent thirty years of his life in service to the military and
our nation, testified similarly in a hearing on DADT before the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. In explaining his
support for the repeal of DADT, General Coleman discussed how the ban on GLBs mirrors the exclusion and restrictions placed on African-
Americans during his early years of service. He testified about what it was like to be excluded from all-white units and devalued “because of
who you are.” According to General Coleman, DADT is disruptive to military commanders in that, “no matter how well a person does his or her
job . . . no matter how integral to their unit they are . . . they must be removed . . . and dismissed because of who they happen to be, or who
they happen to love.”252 It is time, he contends, “to end this modern-day prejudice and embrace all of our troops as first-class patriots with an
important contribution to make.”

"Mildred Loving, too, has compared prohibitions against blacks to prohibitions against gays. Ms. Loving was the African-American co-
plaintiff (her white husband was the other) in Loving v. Virginia254—the historic 1967 Supreme Court case overturning race-based legal
restrictions on marriage. In 2007, on the 40th anniversary of that landmark case, Ms. Loving described how modern day restrictions on
gay marriage parallel historical restrictions on interracial marriage:

'Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of
Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person
precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all
Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same
freedom. . . . Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially
if it denies people’s civil rights. I am . . . proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help
reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white . . . gay or
straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'"

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