Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Gay Soldiers Say Military Changes Are Easy

VIDEO: Federal appeals court reinstates military ban on openly gay service members.
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JD is an officer in the Air Force, readying for his first deployment to Afghanistan. Because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, he doesn't disclose his sexual identity to his superiors, but most of his close friends -- even the straight ones -- know he is gay.

And he is not alone. JD helps direct OutServe, a LGBT group with about 400 service members who bond through a "hidden" social network not accessible to the public.

"It's a younger generation and we have gone through high school and are now in the military and we've already had to deal with it," said JD, who can't reveal his name or age or he will be discharged.

"I have lived most of my career completely open with most of my colleagues," said JD, who has served for six years. "I have roomed with straight men in close quarters. I have never had any issues."

He and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the military don't see the hurdles that the Pentagon anticipates in repeal of the 17-year policy that bans gays from openly serving in the military.

This week the Obama Administration put the Clinton-era policy back on the books, just days after the Department of Defense told recruiters to accept openly gay candidates.

On Sept. 12, a 9th Circuit federal court judge had ordered an injunction

against enforcing the controversial policy. But the government pushed for a temporary stay, saying that Congress, not the courts, should repeal the law.

They say they want an orderly process to ensure new policies and cultural sensitivities are in place before the military undergoes its biggest change since women were welcomed to the military academies in 1976.

Questions of health benefits and other spousal perks, housing, as well as policies on sexual harassment, and even sensitivity training and support must be addressed.

And just yesterday, after a roller coaster of legal decisions, Defense Secretary William Gates limited "until further notice" any discharges under the policy to only five senior officials who must personally sign off on each case.

The issue will come up again before the lame duck session of Congress.

The Pentagon has been waiting for the Dec. 1 release of a " target="external">survey of 400,000 active and reserve service members who were polled on attitudes about morale and ability to fulfill a combat mission if gays are allowed to openly serve.

The 103-question survey quizzes troops on how they would react to sharing a shower with a gay or lesbian service member and whether they would be willing to bring their spouse to a military social function if they knew that someone who was openly gay would also attend.

Defense Secretary Gates has said, "I feel strongly this is an action that -- requires careful preparation, and a lot of training. It has enormous consequences for our troops."

But groups like OutServe, who advocate for lifting the ban, say attitudes are more tolerant since the policy was created during the Clinton administration in 1993, and the military has already adapted.

As far as JD is concerned, "No changes are needed right away," except notifying a same-sex partner if a solder dies in battle. "At least they should respect me if I die," he said.

"The most disappointing thing this week is we had people like [Robert] Gates call me an 'enormous consequence,'" he said. "That's a direct attack against those in service to have a direct leader say we are an enormous consequence."

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