A Modest Proposal: Privacy as a Flawed Rationale for the Exclusion of Gays and Lesbians from the U.S. Military

January 1, 2003

The late Professor Charles Moskos was known as the author of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Although Moskos testified in Congress that lesbian, gay and bisexual service members must be banned from the military because they undermine unit cohesion, his primary concern was privacy in military showers and barracks, not cohesion. According to Moskos, the mere presence of known lesbian, gay, and bisexual personnel in intimate military quarters would inflict “privacy injuries” on heterosexual peers. The Palm Center tried for years to persuade Moskos that his offensive argument about privacy was without merit, and as part of that effort, we published this study in a leading security studies journal, International Security. (We are not sure if he ever read the study, as he deflected efforts to discuss it.) While we failed to persuade Moskos to disavow the privacy rationale, we are proud that he did sign our amicus brief arguing that military decriminalization of sodomy would not undermine readiness.