Story from the Frontline of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell':
An Active-Duty Military Chaplain

They are among the unknown soldiers.

There are only a few who know the truth of those who lie in these graves. There are only a few who know the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn them in silence and fear. The nation remains silent and owes no allegiance to who they truly were nor does it honor their loved ones. What does that say of our sacred values?

If one gay person was killed in defense of America, issues such as the destruction of unit morale or the fear of people not wanting to join the military devalue their sacrifice. This is not about appeasing the uncomfortable feelings of a minority; this is a universal and transcendent matter of justice. America was built on the common Jewish and Christian heritage of justice when the Bible commands: “Justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20).

It is easy for those who do not live in fear of being ‘outed’ to say: ‘We must wait and examine this law further.’ But when you have to watch what you say, where you go, and who you talk to, this erodes the human person. When you live in fear that the wrong pronoun slips through your lips, or a co-worker see you in public with your life long partner and you respond ‘this is just a friend’, this degrades your human self worth.

Gays and lesbians wait not for justice, for them justice is denied, but they wait for the ‘knock on the door.’ They are haunted daily waiting ‘to be found out.’

We went to foreign lands to wage war to liberate people so they would not have to live in the fear of waiting. But citizens of our own land who served nobly, who died to secure freedoms which they would never profit from, must live in fear waiting for justice.

"Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" is an unjust law. It degrades the human soul because it forces those who willingly serve to live in shameful humiliation because of deceit and fear. It undermines the very principles and values of what it means to be an American. Living the façade of a life goes against the Core Values of every Armed Service. How much longer is justice going to be denied? There comes a time when despair and fear must end.

Mr. President, we depend on your sense of justice and fairness to help end this gross injustice so we, as a nation, do not have to wait for the final marker to be placed in the last cemetery.

We ask you to lead the way in repealing this unjust law and replace it with a policy of non-discrimination that advances open and honest service. A law that is consistent with true American values and honors the sacrifices of so many who have served – and died — in silence.

With deepest respect,

A military chaplain

(The writer is currently serving and unable to identify himself publicly.)

April 26 – Major Mike Almy
April 27 – Captain Joan Darrah
April 28 – LCpl Danny Hernandez