A gay Marine tells his story and blasts DADT

Powerful op-ed in the New York Daily News from Justin Johnson, who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s gay. He’s a Marine. And, he knows Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is wrong:

Since I hadn’t outed myself to the military in 2005 and simply allowed my four year active duty service expire, the Marine Corps recalled me from its pool of inactive reserves. Now, I was faced with a decision to closet myself and deploy or out myself to the Marines, be honorably discharged and consequently not deploy. In effect, I faced a choice between maintaining my personal integrity and following through on my commitment to serve when called, which I agreed to when I was commissioned.

I reached out to friends, family and comrades for advice. Surprisingly, the Marines I spoke to, most of whom I served with in combat, were almost uniformly in favor of me deploying despite my sexuality. Certainly, one or two were concerned what might happen if I were outed, but the vast majority gave me characteristically blunt advice: “Buck up, serve honorably, if you don’t go, someone else will have to.”

So I deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, from September 2007 to April 2008 without incident and with honor.

As I have said, I have kept a low profile on this issue to this point. But I can no longer abide the mischaracterizations made by politicians and conservative organizations. There are certainly real concerns about training and discipline that must be addressed, but the arguments put forth by many opponents are disapproval of homosexuality as opposed to genuine concerns about “readiness.”

The recent survey of the military echoes my experience: 92% of those who have served with someone they knew or believed to be gay felt their unit’s performance was better or the same as it was before. The repeal of DADT will contribute immeasurably to unit cohesion and our national security, and is in keeping with our commitment to justice for all.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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