I want to commend Stars and Stripes for publishing “If gays can serve openly, will straights still want to?” (article, Nov. 18), regarding “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I thought it was balanced and informative.

Supporters of the DADT policy fear a mass heterosexual exodus from the military and poor recruiting if the policy is reversed and gays are allowed to serve openly. Other fears include decreased unit cohesion, decreased military performance and decreased moral discipline.

Many of our NATO allies, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel and Australia, have lifted their bans on allowing gays to serve openly in the military. What has their experience been? Did they see a mass heterosexual exodus, a mass “coming-out” of gay servicemembers, decreased unit cohesion, decreased military performance, decreased readiness, or a failure to recruit?

No, they didn’t. In a survey of more than 100 military experts, all agreed that the decision to lift the ban had absolutely no effect on any of these measures. Despite people’s fears, these scenarios just didn’t happen.

During opposition to President Harry Truman’s desegregation of the military, many of these same concerns were raised. Opposition came from high places, including Georgia Democratic Sen. Richard Russell Jr. But the fears were groundless, as experience has shown us. Desegregation of the military was the right thing to do − no matter that many people were uncomfortable with it, or that it was unpopular.

Just as it is unconscionable to fire someone based on race, it’s equally unjust to fire someone based on sexual orientation. We live in a country where we pledge to stand for “liberty and justice for all.” Let’s repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and make that pledge mean what we say.

Dr. (Capt.) Josh PackardCamp Cropper, Iraq

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