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Senior military officials ask federal appeal court to overturn DADT

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network reports that 14 senior retired military leaders have filed a brief requesting that the First Circuit Court of Appeals reverse a lower court ruling that  granted the government’s motion to dismiss Cook v. Rumsfeld, a constitutional challenge to DADT. 

Despite all the queasiness elected officials have shown about this issue, it’s clear that military leaders of stature are standing up, in a time of crisis in personnel shortage,  to publicly call for change. The senselessness of DADT is hurting military capability.

Those signing the brief include Colonel Graham Beard, USA (Ret.); The Honorable Carolyn Becraft, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, USA (Ret.); Captain Joan E. Darrah, USN (Ret.); Captain Robert D. Dockendorff, USNR (Ret.); Colonel Paul W. Dodd, USA (Ret.); Captain Sandy Geiselman, USNR (Ret.); Admiral John D. Hutson, USN (Ret.), President and Dean of Franklin Pierce Law School; Brigadier General Keith H. Kerr, CSMR (Ret.); Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence J. Korb, Ph.D; Colonel E.A. Leonard, USA (Ret.); Captain Robert M. Rankin, USN (Ret.); and Real Admiral Alan M. Steinman, USPHS/USCG (Ret.).

“Based on their experience in the military, [these leaders] have first-hand knowledge that numerous gay people serve in the Armed Forces with full awareness by their commands,” the brief says.  “This service does not undermine unit cohesion, as is made evident by the policy of retention of openly gay service members during times of war and urgent need.”  The brief goes on to say that “the military’s own policies and its general and specific decisions belie its continuing public assertion that allowing openly gay persons to serve undermines unit cohesion.  During times of war, the Armed Forces formally and informally implement stop-loss policies that result in the retention of openly gay service members until the time of crisis has passed,” undermining the military’s assertion that openly gay troops negatively impact unit cohesion or morale.

The leaders argue in their brief that, “the experience of numerous foreign militaries culturally similar to the United States uniformly demonstrates that the integration of openly gay service members has no adverse effect on cohesion.”  It is the law, the brief says, “not the actions of the military’s many loyal, talented homosexual service members” that undermines military capability. 

It should also be noted that U.S. troops are currently serving with openly gay members of the armed forces from other nations in Iraq. Surely unit cohesion has not been destroyed as they work and live side by side with gay and lesbian British troops, for example.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding