“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no more, so Rich Merritt’s Code of Conduct is now a period piece. Hurrah! But the novel is so rich with detail, so engaging in characterization, and so vital in its messages that it is not dated. Merritt has created full-bodied characters who leap from the page, capturing their audience, tugging at heartstrings and inciting righteous anger. It is a wonderful thing that gay soldiers can now serve openly in the American forces. But so many of Merritt’s negative characters are still extant in our society. We still battle hatred-filled politicians and guilt-ridden homophobes. This will most likely never change. But Merritt’s message is clear: everyone just wants to be loved, be they gay, straight, or bi. Thankfully, many of today’s Americans believe that way. They and gay/lesbian/bi readers can all enjoy this wonderful story. The others–well, maybe they can learn from it.