Mutual Respect and `Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

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Officer X

Within minutes of my blog going live yesterday,  Secretary Gates made a public statement that he was not going to certify the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) before he leaves his post on June 30. To be honest, I was crushed. I don’t understand what benefit there is in delaying the process any further.

This latest turn of events is funny coming only days after US Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett (the highest ranking NCO in the Marines) made his comments on DADT repeal public while speaking to a group of fellow Marines.

“How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble? … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.” – Sgt. Maj. Barrett

What gets me the most is the part about respect. Back in December, the DADT repeal process was signed into law.  For the past six months, the thought “why am I still doing this” has crossed my mind repeatedly. Why am I still in the closet? What is stopping me from showing up to the squadron tomorrow with a rainbow flag and posting it above my desk? The answer is that same word Sgt. Maj. Barrett used: respect.

I respect my superiors. I respect their decisions. I respect the policies they lay out. It is no exaggeration to say the military would completely fall apart if its members didn’t.

But when I hear the ‘R’ word, I can’t help but think of a word that is commonly used in conjunction with it in military officer training: mutual. LGBT troops are respecting the expectations laid out by our superiors, but where is the mutual respect? Is being treated the same as my heterosexual counterparts too much to ask?

What are we waiting for? It’s very easy to feel as if we are pawns in a larger political battle, and I can guarantee that the vast majority of us are tired of it. Repeal is not a game and is not something to be taken lightly – which is exactly the reason that it’s time to get it done.
– Officer X is a young, gay military officer who is currently serving on active duty despite the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on open service. He is a pilot and regularly flies throughout the world both in and out of combat. His views are his alone and do not reflect the opinions of the U.S. military, its branches, or any organization. Follow him on Twitter @TIMEOfficerX or email him