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Military Academies Not Concerned About Sexual Orientation

September 20, 2011

The sky did not fall today when DADT ended, but conservatives were rebuked by young members of the military.

The nation’s military leaders of tomorrow say they have less preoccupation with the sexual orientation of their colleagues than generations before them. And gay students are quietly reporting that a burden is being lifted that had weighed down those of same-sex orientation who went before them through the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

In interviews at all three academies, midshipmen and cadets tell The Associated Press that the once-thorny issue of homosexuality just doesn’t create the controversy it once did. Students who weren’t even in their teens at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have grown up in a nation at war. They say competence and character are what matter to them — not sexual orientation.

One immediate change at West Point: Gay cadets no longer have to hide their sexuality in a way they might feel violates the Cadet Honor Code, which demands that “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” One former high-ranking cadet, Katherine Miller of Findlay, Ohio, has said she felt as though she were violating the code by hiding her sexuality. She cited it as a reason for leaving the academy in 2010.

A lesbian cadet at West Point, speaking anonymously, said she does not feel she is violating the Honor Code in the way that Miller did, but still says the repeal could relieve a burden for gay cadets.

“I think it’s a lot about just the fact that it’s going to be a lot less stressful for us,” she said.

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