The Kentucky National
Guard’s 940th Military Police Company is based in
Shortly before the
unit shipped out to
In the summer of 2005,
about halfway through her year of service in
DADT is built around the idea that because gay sex disrupts unit cohesion—that is, because it prevents service members from forming the bonds of trust needed to succeed in combat—lesbians and gay men cannot be allowed to serve openly in the military. The policy rests on the idea that gay sex is more harmful to military effectiveness than other kinds of sexual conduct. Yet the military’s various rules regulating heterosexual sex are also aimed at protecting unit cohesion. If the military regulates a considerable amount of heterosexual conduct as a means to protect unit cohesion, why does DADT presume that gay sex poses a greater threat to unit cohesion than heterosexual sex? The military’s existing policies regulating heterosexual sex suggest that DADT’s focus on homosexuality is misplaced. What the military thinks of as a problem with homosexuality is really a problem with sexual conduct in general.
This Essay makes two distinct contributions to the scholarly literature. First, it provides a new way of approaching the issue of gay military service. To date, the issue of gay service has been debated primarily in terms of whether the presence of openly gay service members would hinder military effectiveness. Indeed, the bulk of scholarly writing on DADT approaches the issue of gay service from this perspective. This Essay breaks from this trend by steering the conversation away from sexual orientation—and, in particular, homosexuality—and refocusing it on sexual conduct. After all, DADT is but one of the military’s many sex regulations, most of which impose considerable restrictions on the sexual lives of service members without regard to sexual orientation. By viewing DADT through this broader lens, this Essay paves the way for a more meaningful conversation about the military’s interest in regulating the sexual conduct of all the men and women serving in the armed forces, not just the ones who engage in same-sex sexual conduct.