Gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors and airmen already exist throughout the military ranks ("If gays can serve openly, will straights still want to?," article, Nov. 18). There seems to be this misguided belief shared by those who oppose repealing "don’t ask, don’t tell" that should they be allowed to serve openly, gays and lesbians are going to suddenly come out of the closet, thereby degrading unit integrity and morale in the armed forces. This notion is ridiculous.

Most gay people do not define whom they are in terms of their sexuality. I have a close family member who is gay, lives in a city that is tolerant of its gay and lesbian population and works for a company that does not discriminate against gay people. If someone asks if he is gay, he answers them honestly because he has nothing to hide, is not ashamed of who he is and does not worry about getting fired from his job due to his sexuality (most people have enough tact not to ask in the first place). He does not, however, advertise the fact that he is gay — simply because it is no one else’s business but his own.

This example is pertinent and can be directly applied to the military should "don’t ask, don’t tell" be repealed. Most gay and lesbian personnel will not openly discuss their sexuality, not out of fear of being treated differently by their friends and co-workers, but simply because it is no one’s business but their own.

The only change that will occur if "don’t ask" is repealed is, gays and lesbians will be allowed to serve their country with dignity but without fear of reprisal for being who they are.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ethan GurneyNaples, Italy

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