Did the stress of having to hide the fact that he was a gay soldier lead alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning to supposedly share thousands of classified government secrets? That’s what Manning’s attorneys are asserting in his pre-trial hearing. They claim the army is to blame for the alleged leaks because military officials gave Manning access to state secrets despite knowing he was emotionally unstable due to gender-confusion and having to hide that he was gay under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” While Manning will most likely still be court-martialed on 22 counts of aiding the enemy, illegally sharing tens of thousands of classified government secrets, and other alleged crimes, their strategy could later help the defense’s plea for leniency during sentencing by claiming the military failed to address Manning’s emotional issues caused by DADT. Still, the move is an offensive generalization to make about gay soldiers who served when DADT was still the law and a regrettable step backward in the fight for equality, say several advocates for gay rights in the military.
Denny Meyer, a gay Vietnam Era veteran who runs the advocacy site gaymilitarysignal.com calls the defense “a horrible insult to every single person who has ever served, not just LGBT members.” Meyer, who hid the fact that he was gay while serving for ten years during and after the Vietnam War, said he’s outraged by the defense’s claims. “How many hundreds of thousands of service members from World War II to present suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? How many of them used that as an excuse to sell out their country,” Meyer asks. He adds of his own time serving, “every day I heard homophobic commentary. It stabbed me every time, but it never once occurred to me to sell out my country.” Meyer calls Manning a “double-traitor” – first for his alleged involvement in Wikileaks, second for “using being queer as an excuse.”
Meanwhile, Dorothy Clausen, whose gay son was brutally murdered while serving in the navy in 1992, says she was shocked by Manning’s defense. Clausen, who advocated for the repeal of DADT ever since her son Allen Schindler’s death, called the defense offensive, saying, “just because he is gay doesn’t mean he can’t be trusted.” Schindler served as a radioman for the navy and was murdered by a shipmate in Japan. Clausen says as a radioman, her son was privy to secret information as well, but “would never dare tell anybody anything that came in.”