The Protected Principles of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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Officer X

On my desk I have a proposed bill ensuring no troop is “pressured to approve of another person’s sexual conduct if that sexual conduct is contrary to the personal principles of the member” with respect to the repeal of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

What I should do here is point out what is obviously upsetting about this bill, then extrapolate it to an illogical level. I could say a person who has built his or her principles on a holy book which gives a man the right to own slaves should not feel pressured to think slavery is wrong. The obvious argument is not what has been keeping me up at night in the wake of the impending repeal of DADT. What is making me nervous are the underlying motives of the people who are still trying to derail the repeal train.

Even though Congress, the White House, the court system, the Pentagon and the majority of the American people want this to happen, there is a considerable sum of people trying up until the last minute to stop the inevitable. I honestly can’t understand why, and wish someone could explain it to me rationally.

The crazy thing is this policy doesn’t even affect those who seem to be trying the hardest to keep it alive. But there is a significant population who the policy does affect: the men and women in uniform. On 20 Sept, the day of DADT’s final repeal, the lives of thousands of servicemembers will be changed forever, including my own. Yet believe it or not, one thing I will never ask of any of my comrades is for them to approve of my sexual acts, because that is frankly none of their business.

The most unfortunate part of being open about my sexual orientation within the military will be the associated implications about my sex life that inevitably will come to people’s minds. This is largely because of how the term is often viewed: sexual orientation in the sense of the sex that goes on in the bedroom rather than the sex that medically defines a male versus a female.

I have no way of knowing for sure what the fate of this newly proposed bill will be, or how it will be implemented. My only hope is if it passes, it is mutually beneficial to all sexual orientations. I don’t want to be forced to approve of or even know enough about of my coworker’s sexual conduct to be able to determine if it is contrary to my personal principles. And if the military and its troops continue to act in a professional manner, we won’t have to, regardless of the original intentions of this bill.

– 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