David Sheldon has represented gays and lesbians in all branches of the service. He has served as lead counsel in the landmark case of Loomis v. United States. Mr. Sheldon has been a strong supporter of the Service Members Legal Defense Network. He has written articles in leading newspapers, advocating that gay, lesbian, and bisexuals should be allowed to serve in the Armed Forces on equal terms as their heterosexual counterparts. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is nothing more than legislated discrimination.
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members currently may serve in the Armed Forces under very restricted circumstances. In effect, so long as a service member remains "in the closet," he or she may serve in the military. Homophobia remains commonplace in the military, although recent surveys show an increased willingness, especially among enlisted members, to allow openly homosexual and bisexual individuals to serve. Still, most service members who come out, or who are "outed" by others, while in the military are neither safe nor secure. Physical violence, harassment, discrimination, verbal abuse, and threats remain commonplace.
"Witch hunts," the pursuit of service members suspected (or accused) of being homosexual or bisexual, also continue to be a problem in the military. A service member's use of on-line "chat rooms" and other web-based communications, whether on a government or civilian computer, may lead to investigation under DADT and separation proceedings. Service members who are not homosexual or bisexual-especially women-are sometimes falsely accused of being homosexual or bisexual because they refuse the sexual advances of other service members.
Service members who are thinking about coming out, who already have come out, who have been "outed" by others, or who are threatened with being "outed" by others (whether true or not), should immediately obtain competent legal advice. A service member whose sexual orientation is questioned by the military or who is under investigation should say nothing, sign nothing, and immediately obtain competent legal advice.