The Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Most people have heard of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which was the compromise policy that President Clinton signed in 1993. His intentions were good, but the outcome was not.
Prior to 1993, anyone who wanted to serve in the military was asked if they were a homosexual. Most of us lied and said “no” so we could serve. A few actually said “yes” and were enlisted anyway, only to be kicked out later when they were no longer needed, or when a homophobic commander decided to make an example of them.
More than 15,000 service members were discharged during DADT. Clearly this wasn’t the answer for the LGBT service members.
In December, 2010, President Obama made good on his campaign promise to end DADT. Shortly thereafter, LGB service members could serve openly. It took until 2016 for the transgender community to be accepted as well.
I served from 1983-1993, a ten year period in which approximately 15,000 service members were discharged. I dodged the bullet, but I wouldn’t say that I was unscathed. I didn’t share my personal life with any of my colleagues. I didn’t invite anyone over to my house. I couldn’t talk about my girlfriend and I tried not to be seen with her, even on my own time. I couldn’t put her down as an emergency contact and she didn’t get any benefits. I went alone to social events and family days. She couldn’t join the Officer’s Wives Club or go to the Officer’s Club. She didn’t get an ID card to come onto the post. We had no support whatsoever.
I wanted to make the Army a career, and I might have stayed longer if things had been different. How many others felt the same way? There’s no way to know.
All told, more than 114,000 service members have been discharged for being gay. Thankfully, that’s a final number. With the stroke of President Obama’s pen, anyone can now serve openly and without fear. He recognized the additional burden of having to hide. Here is the video of his speech.
There’s still work to be done. There are still hundreds of thousands of Veterans that were discriminated against. I want to honor them all. They deserve to be recognized and honored.
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