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DADT: Duty and Dishonor
by Paul Cross, SFC retired

My name is Paul Cross.  I am a retired US Army Sergeant First Class currently working as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan.

Up until a few months ago, I didn’t give DADT much thought.  I’m heterosexual so it didn’t affect me (or so I thought), therefore why should I care?

I read the news constantly, so I was bound to notice a great many articles about DADT.  I hate being in the dark about important issues so I decided to research the facts surrounding this controversial issue and decide for myself whether DADT should be repealed or not.  During my research, I came across a discussion forum called Gay/Lesbian Issues in the Military.  I read the opinions for and against DADT and realized there is much more to DADT than what I’ve always assumed.  I’m willing to bet other straight service members feel the same way as I did and are as much in the dark as I have always been.

You see, I assumed (and I think many others still assume) that DADT is a just law and a fair compromise which allows gay and lesbian service members the honor of serving in our military.  I now know my assumption of justice and fairness was wrong. 

I found out that the justification for DADT is based on the presumption that the presence of known gay and lesbian service members would create an unacceptable risk to the “morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion” of our military.

From my personal experience both past and present, I know that this is false.  While I was in the military, I served with known gay and lesbian soldiers on and off throughout my 21 years of active duty.  Almost every single duty station to which I was assigned during my career, we had at least one known homosexual service member.  They were all highly competent, intelligent, and mature professionals.  They did not cause any negative affect on our morale, our good order and discipline, nor our unit cohesion.  Their sexuality was never an issue; not even once.  I was proud and honored to have served with each one of them. 

We shared barracks rooms and latrines together, worked in the motor pool together, went to the field together, deployed together.  We did all this with known homosexual soldiers, yet the squads and platoons I was in were highly disciplined, our morale was superb, and the soldiers were incredibly tight and extremely loyal to each other; our cohesion was the envy of other squads and platoons. 

As I stated earlier, I am working in Afghanistan right now as a civilian.  Even though I know very few soldiers around here since it’s not part of my job, I do know of some homosexual service members working here on base.  Their fellow soldiers also know they are homosexual.  This fact has not caused any negative affects to their units’ morale, good order and discipline, nor their unit cohesion.

Furthermore, I have read there are 26+ other nations whose militaries have homosexual service members serving openly.  I have heard of absolutely zero resulting negative affects to their militaries’ morale, good order, discipline, and cohesiveness.

All of these facts have convinced me without a doubt that DADT is based on a false justification.  There is no logical or rational basis for this law.  When a law is unnecessary, harmful, of no discernable benefit, and discriminatory, as DADT is; it is not the people’s right, it is the people’s obligation to have it repealed.

The problem is that current service members who are gay can’t fight for themselves without putting their careers in jeopardy.  They can’t testify on their own behalf.  We as straight service members and veterans owe it to our comrades in arms to change this rule.  Loyalty demands that we stand up for them and any other service member who is discriminated against.

DADT forces some of our service members to sacrifice their integrity on a continuous basis.  It mandates they do not tell.  I had assumed earlier that this “telling” was literal.  I thought that a person was only prevented from making the actual statement they were homosexual.  I was unaware until recently that the act of “telling” includes  everyday routine situations, acts, and behaviors I’ve taken for granted for years; such as having a picture of my wife around, talking about my wife, talking on the phone with her, emailing her, bringing her to unit functions, having her meet me upon redeployment, answering everyday questions about her.

I have heard proponents of DADT say all that’s needed is for homosexual service members to merely avoid answering any questions from their buddies.  When confronted with certain questions, they should tell half-truths, “alternate truths” or “different truths”, evade, elude, be vague, give false implications, and dodge questions from their team and squad mates.

These are all forms of dishonesty.  They’re just another way of lying, that’s all.  How dare we as leaders force our soldiers to be dishonest?  How dare we tell them they must lie to their buddies but then contradict that order by telling them we value integrity?  I see now the Catch-22 we put them into.  I now understand we force them into a moral dilemma.  This is immoral.

When I was in from the early 80's to 2004, the sections, teams, and squads that I was in were very, very close knit. We rarely had a fellow team/squad member who we did not know much about. We knew each others’ wives/husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends, their pets’ names, their moms, dads, their kids, what their favorite color was, their brand of toothpaste, their favorite MRE, their favorite song.  Shoot, when I was squad leader, I knew almost as much about my squad members as I did my wife.

Yes, a homosexual service member could slip, dodge, evade, elude, and be vague for a while but eventually he either had to be honest, outright lie, or be deemed an outsider, a snob, a loner, and not "part of the team" if he kept to himself. If he didn’t trust his teammates enough to be open with them, his teammates were hesitant to trust him in return. That is just basic human nature. Trust is just like respect in that way, you have to give it to get it, in my experience.

If a homosexual avoided being open about himself it would quickly be evident to his teammates that he was dishonest and could not be trusted.   Soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines that I know have integrity and values and they realize that lack of integrity within a unit is a surefire way to lose the respect and loyalty of those around them and seriously damage the morale and cohesiveness of their unit.

When we force homosexual service members to lie to their buddies, we are doing them a severe injustice.  The vast majority of them have a conscience and it therefore goes against their values to constantly perpetuate a lie, especially to their brothers-in-arms. This in turn causes them undue stress to constantly have to withdraw from and be evasive with their fellow soldiers. Hell, we fight and kill and bleed right beside each other, share each other’s terror, pain, frustration, homesickness, tears, loneliness, and joy. There is no greater bond than what soldiers in combat forge.  DADT weakens that very bond when it forces homosexuals to lie to their fellow comrades-in-arms. That’s pretty damned pathetic. This is a BIG reason why I think DADT is a huge liability to our military and why it MUST go.

After reading and researching about DADT and the damage it’s done, I can now say I have a hell of lot more respect for homosexual service members than I did before. Sure, we all have to put up with crap in the military. We all have to sacrifice.

But knowing now what a homosexual service member has to go through to serve his or her country leads me to believe that they may have to have just a bit more dedication than their hetero counterparts, just a bit more of the values which we as a nation and as a professional military esteem.

I say that homosexual service members must have a bit more selfless service than heterosexual service members because to serve their country, they have to either sacrifice their integrity or deny themselves any companionship. Why go thru all that heartache just to help make their country safe? I sure as hell couldn't live like that. That is truly selfless on their part.  Some proponents of DADT state they knew the rules before signing up.  I say they still volunteered IN SPITE of these rules.  This too is extremely selfless on their part.  That is yet another reason why we owe it to them to repeal DADT so they don’t have to continue sacrificing needlessly.

They must have more personal courage: They have to constantly live in fear of being outed and booted. Risking so much to have the honor of serving your country is a mark of true bravery.

They must have a greater sense of duty.  They feel compelled to give back to their country even though their country still discriminates against them.  That is definitely a sense of duty and obligation as well as a huge display of loyalty. 

In short, maybe homosexual service members must have a bit more honor than the rest of us in order to serve our country.

Basically what I’m saying is I have loads of respect for them and would serve with them any day. I'd trust them implicitly to watch my back and I’d guard their 6 as well. They have honor.

As for DADT, many decent people want to change this discriminatory law because it does some of our service members a severe injustice by treating them as second class citizens; because it is detrimental to our military by denying us multitudes of highly competent, intelligent, and patriotic men and women; because there is no logical justification for this law, because it is costly in terms of millions of dollars; and because it goes against the values of equality and justice for all which our country holds dear.

Dump DADT.

Thank you.

  2010 Gay Military Signal