Marines On Military's Ban On Gays

fromWHQR

The Pentagon is beginning a year-long study to see what it would take to implement changes to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. Marines near North Carolina's Camp Lejeune share their views on the possibility of serving with openly gay troops. Most are tight-lipped.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Back in the U.S., we went looking for the opinions of more Marines on whether don't ask, don't tell should be repealed.

Catherine Welch of member station WHQR gathered an unscientific sampling from Marines near Camp Lejuene in North Carolina.

CATHERINE WELCH: When you tool around town looking for Marines, first try Hooters. That's where a group of Marines were standing out in the cold smoking. They were plenty talkative but clammed up when it came to what they thought about don't ask, don't tell.

Unidentified Man #1: I support my commander-in-chief in whatever he does because we are the president's army.

WELCH: There were a few variations but throughout the night it was pretty much don't ask because I'm not going to tell you.

Unidentified Man #2: I follow the president's order on what he says as we've always done.

WELCH: A few blocks down the street at Applebee's, Corporal Miley Hoting(ph) is sitting at the bar. He has two months left in the Marine Corps and no problem giving his opinion.

Corporal MILEY HOTING (U.S. Marines): Something like that would destroy a unit. It would tear us apart because at this point in time we can't trust people. It rips us apart from the inside. So, as far as it goes, they can keep the old policy. It has been working so far, but anything new or they just blatantly can come out and say it, not at all good.

WELCH: Hoting says he doesn't hate homosexuals. It's just that knowing who is gay in your team wouldn't work on the battlefield.

Cpl. HOTING: It affects the little people. It affects them because now you can't trust the people around you. You don't know if that guy is actually going to be there when you need him.

WELCH: Another Marine I talked to, says the problem isn't on the battlefield where the fighting happens too quickly and everyone just wants to get home safely. He says, the problem is back on base, in the barracks, for example, where they'll have to figure out living arrangements. The one thing that most of the Marines at this restaurant on this night agreed on is that they didn't want to give their names, no matter what their views.

Unidentified Man #3: I would like to keep that confidential.

WELCH: That's what I kept hearing all night.

Unidentified Man #4: I'd rather keep it anonymous.

Unidentified Man #5: Keep me anonymous, be better off that way.

WELCH: These two Marines did say they would be okay serving with people who are openly gay as long as they were professional.

Unidentified Man #4: You can't tell everybody what to do, because then it wouldn't be the United States of America.

WELCH: Some of the Marines did say they knew gay Marines who felt uncomfortable having to hide their sexuality. But they said you make sacrifices if you want to be a Marine, and being openly gay is one of them.

For NPR News, I'm Catherine Welch.

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