Could Repeal of DADT Put Gay Servicemen, Partners in Jeopardy On Middle East Deployments?

In a brief entry at Newsweek.com entitled "What Repeal Will Mean," Eve Conant fleshes out some of the legal and cultural changes that allowing openly gay servicemen would entail.

For example, how would this impact conservative chaplains whose faith condemns as sinful homosexual practice?

But the last item Conant discussed seemed to me one that I've not heard in any of the coverage I've read or seen thus far:

Gays and lesbians could travel to countries where homosexuality is illegal, with no restrictions on overseas assignments.


They would be briefed on legal risks before deployment, however. Partners traveling overseas would not get legal protections often afforded to opposite-sex spouses. “Our primary objective is repeal,” says Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the gay-advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “It’s not politically expedient to insist on getting this perfect from day one.”

As with all public policy, the devil is in the details. Considering that the main theater of combat operations is presently in Islamic countries with very strict penalties for homosexual practice, this matter seems like a valid concern both for the safety of our servicemen and the political and diplomatic sensitivities involved with our allies in the region.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), the media would do a great service to the public debate if it would break down the DADT repeal issue in greater depth rather than simply give a surface level treatment of the issue that traffics in soundbites.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters