I don’t think anyone would argue that $364 million isn’t a large sum of money, and splitting it over ten years would pay out $36.4 million a year. I could live with $36.4 million a year for ten years, but what I can’t live with is that’s the amount the Washington Post reported the U.S. military spent on discharging and replacing gay service members under President Bill Clinton-endorsed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) Policy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely knocking Clinton. DADT was a half-hearted-decent attempt at a temporary solution; however, the time has come for the government to recognize that one’s sexuality has no effect on one’s military performance.
Anyone can Google DADT to find the history on the policy, so I’m not going to rave about the policy— instead I am going to treat to you to the thoughts of two members of the Atlanta GLBT community.
E: DADT affected my daily life in the Air Force by providing a daily reminder of how my sexuality is unwelcome in the Armed Forces. The policy allowed me to serve; however, it forced something that is a small fraction of who I am as a person into a political closet. Regardless of the policy, I still felt threatened on a daily basis of exposure. Even though they couldn’t ask and I didn’t have to tell, I could always be inspected or investigated.
DB: What would you do if you were tipped off that you were about to be investigated because you were suspected to be a lesbian?
E: If I knew the Office of Special Investigation was going to investigate me, I would send everything in my dorm room that would be remotely misconstrued as being gay to my best friend’s house for safe keeping. I would delete email accounts and disconnect myself from anyone that could be confused as being gay and therefore would aid in the confirmation of my sexuality. However, you must understand that there must be witness to my committing or wanting to commit a homosexual act before they initiate the investigation. It is up to the Squadron Commander that I belong to, to initiate that investigation.
**Erica served in the U.S. Air Force for 6 years; she left service classified as a Personnel Journeyman.
JS: Before DADT, in my service time there was, I think it was called, The Code of Military Justice, and there was a provision therein called Section 8. That term, “Section 8” was as close as I can relate to DADT at the time. It was the provision under which sexual misconduct was used to discharge an individual. I never knew anyone who was prosecuted but I heard of some close calls. Perhaps due to the extreme situation (all or nothing War) not much attention was paid to looking for infractions of Section 8. I might add here that at the time of my going on active duty, and during our first medical examination, the following situation occurred:
Toward the end of the examination, we were all going thru the exam process naked. It was rather fast. We had all been told to “beware of the Psychiatrist, as he’ll find out things about you and you’ll get thrown out” – so we were all scared of this final exam. When my turn came I was lead into a simple room where the doctor sat behind a table. We were ordered to sit in a chair in front of the table. He looked at my papers and then at me and simply asked, “Do you like girl?” At 18 I was dating girls, primarily for dance partners, loved to dance all my life, so in all honesty all I could say was, “Yes Sir”. He looked up at the door and said loudly, “NEXT.” That was the exam we were all so afraid to face. In those times when the country was facing the most dangerous times in it’s history, the services needed all the help they could get. Every able bodied man up thru 44 years old was “in” as well as many women. (Women didn’t have to do combat duty then.)
DB: What is your opinion of DADT?
JS: My opinion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that it’s way out of line. The one example that sticks in my mind, of late, is reading about Arabic linguist personnel being discharged under DADT in large numbers. That is beyond my comprehension when such people are so desperately needed in the present war situation. It’s obvious that the need for translators is of utmost important as lives can depend on such abilities with language. It makes me wonder if American lives were lost, or are being lost, in the war zone due to these people being removed from service when common sense says they are of the greatest need and importance.