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Honor over all

“Honor over all” - the last three words of "Anchor’s Aweigh." Only at the Naval Academy would the football fight song end with a reminder that in all things, our honor must supersede all other considerations. Accordingly, it was only fitting of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, USNA ’68, to say that DADT implicates the honor of those who must lie in order to serve the country they love, but also the integrity of the institution that forces these lies in the face of Core Values that are its bedrock.

Honor, Courage and Commitment are the Naval Services’ Core Values. As a Naval Academy graduate, I have always believed that DADT has been a cancer to those values and has harmed my Navy and our national defense. I was pleased to hear Admiral Mullen voice that same conviction. In its sad, sorry history, DADT has made a mockery of an institution that demands the highest level of integrity from its members, while requiring some to either lie outright or by omission in order to remain in the ranks – regardless of their competency, bravery and devotion to duty. My Navy deserves to be better than that and I applaud Admiral Mullen for saying so.

One group, who’s integrity, or rather its lack thereof, was unmentioned by Admiral Mullen, should not go unnoticed. This group is those who oppose repeal of DADT. The opposition to allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in our military is premised on falsehoods, fear-mongering, and a lack of moral courage on the part of many. Let’s all be honest, the vast majority of those who oppose gay service do so because of their personal sectarian belief that homosexuality is immoral. Yet, rather than saying so directly, they mask their bigotry behind arguments that gay service undermines unit cohesion or effects good order. Their arguments invoking showers and foxholes merely spin ridiculous myths of inappropriate, unprofessional behavior not grounded in reality. Their claim that gay service will cause a mass exodus insults the professionalism of our troops. They make these ignorant claims with no evidence and in the face of every study ever conducted on the subject as well as the experience of our allies and our own forces in combat now. How does doing so reflect any sense of honor?

Even more lacking in honor are those such as John McCain, USNA ’58, who should know better but whose opposition to gays in the military isn’t based on great principle but rather political expediency. His campaign slogan, “Country First,” is just short-hand for his real guiding motto, “Country First, Except When It Might Cost Me An Election.” How otherwise does one explain his flip-flopping on DADT – just because the JCS Chairman took a position that McCain cannot support because he faces a right-wing challenge in the Arizona Senatorial Republican primary?

Admiral Mullen was right, in the end it always does come down to integrity. It always has.