Powerful op-ed in the New York Daily News from Justin Johnson, who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s gay. He’s a Marine. And, he knows Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is wrong:
Since I hadn’t outed myself to the military in 2005 and simply allowed my four year active duty service expire, the Marine Corps recalled me from its pool of inactive reserves. Now, I was faced with a decision to closet myself and deploy or out myself to the Marines, be honorably discharged and consequently not deploy. In effect, I faced a choice between maintaining my personal integrity and following through on my commitment to serve when called, which I agreed to when I was commissioned.
I reached out to friends, family and comrades for advice. Surprisingly, the Marines I spoke to, most of whom I served with in combat, were almost uniformly in favor of me deploying despite my sexuality. Certainly, one or two were concerned what might happen if I were outed, but the vast majority gave me characteristically blunt advice: “Buck up, serve honorably, if you don’t go, someone else will have to.”
So I deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, from September 2007 to April 2008 without incident and with honor.
As I have said, I have kept a low profile on this issue to this point. But I can no longer abide the mischaracterizations made by politicians and conservative organizations. There are certainly real concerns about training and discipline that must be addressed, but the arguments put forth by many opponents are disapproval of homosexuality as opposed to genuine concerns about “readiness.”
The recent survey of the military echoes my experience: 92% of those who have served with someone they knew or believed to be gay felt their unit’s performance was better or the same as it was before. The repeal of DADT will contribute immeasurably to unit cohesion and our national security, and is in keeping with our commitment to justice for all.