Main | Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DADT Fallout: Conscientious Objectors?

A longtime counselor of U.S. service members predicts that if DADT were to be repealed, some soldiers will attempt to leave the military by claiming they are conscientious objectors to serving alongside homosexuals. Anti-gay activists have long held that soldiers will simply chose not to re-enlist should the repeal go into effect.
When the House of Representatives voted May 27 to allow the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, paving the way for gay men and lesbians in the military to be open about their sexual orientation, Ms. McNeil got a hot-line call that raised a new issue: the caller said he considered homosexuality an abomination and wanted to be a conscientious objector because he could not serve in the military alongside gay soldiers. “I told him I wasn’t trying to criticize, but he was already serving with gays, since there’s lots of gays in the military now,” said Ms. McNeil, the executive director of the Center on Conscience & War, a nonprofit group that supports conscientious objectors. “He said, ‘Yes, but now if they come out, they can be forced out. But if homosexuality is actually allowed, I will be housed with somebody who’s sexually attracted to me.’
The counselor, a Quaker lawyer who has helped thousands of soldiers exit the military, says while she personally approves of the repeal of DADT, she is uncertain whether the military would accept "I can't serve with gays" as a legitimate reason.
The legal standard, she said, is that the person must be conscientiously opposed to participating in war in any form, based on a sincerely held religious, moral or ethical belief. And the person must have had a change of heart since joining the military, when the person signed a form saying he or she was not a conscientious objector and did not intend to become one. “In the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situation, they’re not opposed to participating in war, they’re opposed to who they’re participating with,” Ms. McNeil said.
(Tipped by JMG reader Bryan)

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