Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" is dangerous. It's time to repeal. This is What Got To Me Today.

I get what President Clinton was trying to do with the implementation of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in the military.  The idea behind it was to somehow protect gay soldiers, figuring if they weren't "outed", then there could be no repercussions. 

Well, DADT has been a disaster.

Not only does it treat gay soldiers like second class citizens, it has cost the Pentagon hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax payer funds and has implemented the discharge of over 13,500 good, American soldiers.  I don't think people realize what kind of expertise we are losing because of a person's sexual preferences.  The Palm Center at the University of California Santa Barbara has released data obtained from the Freedom of Information Act, and not only shows how many soldiers were discharged because of DADT, but what positions or specialties they served.  According the website:

"For the first time, we can now trace how many gays and lesbians have been discharged from each military base, and how many service members in each distinct job category have been discharged for homosexuality. According to the data, for example, between 1998-2003, the military discharged 49 nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare specialists, 90 nuclear power engineers, 52 missile guidance and control operators, 150 rocket, missile and other artillery specialists, and 340 infantrymen.  

I don't know about you but I would feel a lot better if these people were still serving us.  For discharge lists by base and job positions, click here.

I ran across an article today by P. Scott, a political blogger for Care2Make a Difference.  It prompted me to check out the website of the Service Member's Legal Defense Network (SMLD).  There, there are letters posted that have been sent to President Obama, in an attempt to urge him to repeal DADT.  Former Army Seargent Tracey Cooper-Harris wrote this letter:

May 10, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,

My name is Tracey Cooper-Harris. I served in the Army for 12 years, reaching the rank of Sergeant. As a soldier and a non-commissioned officer (NCO), I performed my duties with honor and distinction. I was lauded by my peers and superiors for going above and beyond the status quo to complete the mission.

And, I am gay.

I lived in constant fear serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was always looking over my shoulder, censoring what I said and keeping as much physical distance as possible between my military life and my personal life.

Even with this vigilance, I was found out by some male “friends” at my first duty assignment. I was just 19 years old. The deal was simple: Perform sexual favors and my secret was safe.

I had a choice: report these men for “sexual harassment/cohesion” and end my military career or submit to their demands.

Despite the military’s “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment, it doesn’t apply to those forced in the closet under DADT. I was sexually blackmailed and just a teenager.

At that time, as well as other times during my military service, I had seen friends discharged under DADT who were in similar situations. My friends were discharged, while their perpetrators were given a slap on the wrist.

The signal from command was clear: being gay was a far more serious offense in the military than sexually harassing a fellow service member. I ultimately chose what I believed was the best decision for me at the time. I let these men have their way with me in exchange for their silence.

I am not proud of what I did, but I loved my job too much to let it destroy my career before it had even started.

My decision didn’t come without consequences. I was eventually diagnosed with an STD which could potentially lead to cervical cancer later in life.

I, frankly, am still ashamed of what I had to do to stay in the Army. I wasn’t discharged under DADT, but left because of it. I continue to attend counseling sessions provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs for what I went through. The memories still come back to haunt me some 16 years later.

I don't want to see other service members go through what I went through. And unfortunately, this will continue to happen as long as DADT is law.

As long as a recruit or military member meets or exceeds the criteria for military service, let them serve. A bullet doesn’t discriminate because of a person’s race, gender identity, sex, religion, or sexual orientation, so why does the U.S. military continue to do so?

The time to repeal DADT is long overdue. Please, Mr. President, do the right thing.

Respectfully yours,
Former Sgt. Tracey L. Cooper-Harris
United States Army

Really?  Are we honestly going to say as a society that it is better for women (and men too) to subject themselves to sexual abuse because we would rather have that than openly admit we have gay soldiers?  It is infuriating!

I have never been in the military, so maybe I am missing something.  I just don't see what the big deal is?  A trained American soldier is a trained American soldier.  Period.  Whether or not they are hetero- or homosexual doesn't change the fact they are serving our country, protecting our people, and sacrificing themselves for the cause. 

Speaking of sacrifice, what does a system like DADT say to those gay soldiers who have already given their lives for our country?  What does it say to their families?  How could we value these men and women any less than any other soldier? 

Currently there are twenty-five other nations who openly allow gays in the military and it is a non-issue.

I, for one, hope the same will be true for our military, and the rest of society for that matter.  A person's sexual orientation is none of anyone's business. A Defense Authorization Bill is pending in Washington D. C.  The time is upon us.

It is time to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell".


  1. I see DADT as a first step to changing the rules. The military runs on rules. As long as being gay is against the rules you can't ignore the breaking of the rules. Unfortunately, they don't enforced the harassment rules equally. Maintaining discipline is hard enough with a large group of young men, throw in admitting being gay is OK and you've got a mess. Living near Ann Arbor you are exposed to a very tolerant and accepting view being gay, travel 100 miles west and the attitudes change drastically. Is the Army ready for openly gay soldiers? Yes. The Army will do as ordered. Is America ready? I think we are getting there, but the religious implications will make it very hard.

  2. I can understand the reasoning behind DADT but it is outdated. Another big issue for me are the young women serving who are subjected to sexual harassment and abuse day in and day out.
    The service seems to be a bit behind the times and does need to be shaken awake to create new policies and follow them strictly.