Decorated Army Ranger: “Gays and lesbians serve honorably in War on Terror”

activism, lgbt, politics Add comments

hughesdadtIn the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal today, Army Ranger sergeant and Iraq war vet Brian Hughes, makes the case that gays and lesbians have served honorably in the War on Terror, and presents a clear and cogent argument on why the Obama administration needs to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

I was a line infantryman in the Army’s Ranger regiment from 2000-04, earning a promotion to sergeant within three years. In that time, my platoon performed dozens of combat missions on the front lines. Our lives depended on complete mutual trust.

Several of my colleagues knew I was gay. We lived in the closest possible conditions. When there were showers, we showered together. When we were out overnight on the cold, bare mountains of Afghanistan, we slept huddled together for warmth. It should go without saying that there was nothing remotely sexual about these situations. We had uncomfortable experiences — we were at war, after all — but my buddies were never uncomfortable with me.

Today the strongest resistance to overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may not come from the military, which polls show mostly supports repeal, nor from social conservatives, who are not in power. Rather, there are many Democratic leaders and strategists who blame the issue of gays in the military for damaging the beginning of Bill Clinton’s presidency. They fear it could have the same effect on Mr. Obama.

The truth is that public opinion has moved dramatically on this issue. Public support for repeal consistently polls above 75% — well above Mr. Obama’s approval ratings. The fact that support is above 90% for men and women aged 18-29 should put to rest any worries that repeal could interfere with recruitment.

Here at home, every government service is integrated, including the paramilitary sections of the CIA that work hand in glove with the armed services. The presence of gays in these organizations is a nonissue. The idea that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines would have any greater difficulty adjusting is an insult to their professionalism.

Democrats have an opportunity to burnish their national security credentials by strengthening the military. It’s time for Congress and the Obama administration to order the full integration of gays and lesbians in the armed services.

Hughes served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, and was awarded the Commendation Medal twice for his service. While serving he participated in the rescue operation that brought Jessica Lynch home. Hughes received an honorable discharge when he came out in 2004.

Post by ILO on 05/21/09 at 10:15 am