The military policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed on Sept 20, 2011. I believe the history and repeal of DADT cuts to the core of what America is and has become; it shows how when one group’s rights are trampled upon, the entire culture is diminished.
DADT was made an official policy in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. Service members were not allowed to be questioned about their sexual orientation nor disclose their sexual orientation to others. Simple, right?
What the general public failed to see was that “don’t ask” was a myth. “What are you doing this weekend?”, “Who are you with?” and “Why aren’t you married?” soon became questions to fear for homosexuals. Military personnel and soldiers were forced to lie about every aspect of their life: their social plans, their significant others, their own identity.
American citizens, fully willing to die for your freedom, were rejected simply for being honest about their sexual orientation. The policy itself was so convoluted, the Pentagon actually issued an “official comic book” to explain it.
Erykah Jones served in the military as an automated logistical specialist from 2001 to 2006, and is currently a work-study certified assistant, helping with veteran affairs here at MCCC.
“There [are] so many other things going on when we’re being trained to fight for our country,” explained Jones. “What [service members] really need to worry about is saving lives… instead of worrying about what someone feels about their sexual preference.”
A horrifying piece of evidence was then uncovered in 2001: Two days before the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, 54 gay Arabic Linguists had been discharged. Alarming messages, not translated until two days after 9/11 (due to a lack of linguists), came to the surface. It was a definite wake-up call for our country.
Jones said she learned about the discharged linguists in her Social Problems class at MCCC.
“It shows that [our military] is contradictory… At the end of the day, you’re worried about someone’s personal life, and you have the country in your hands.”
Current treasurer of MCCC’s own LGBTF club (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and friends) James Reslier-Wells, shares my same prediction concerning our military’s future after the repeal; “Whether or not this will have any immediate effect on the quality of life for LGBT personnel remains to be seen. There is a lot of ritual and ingrained attitudes in the armed services, and it may well take time to see common acceptance of openly homosexual individuals really come about on a large scale, regardless of official stance.”
Yet, as the wise Jay Leno so clearly points out, there is much more our country has to improve on concerning LGBT equality: “’Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is now over. Gay people can enlist, fight overseas… and then not be able to get married when they get back home.”
OpalLisa Thrush, Current PR Officer for Mercer’s LGBTF Club, wholeheartedly agrees. “[The repeal of DADT] is a large step forward, but we still have a long way to go on the road of human rights and equality.”
So, let’s keep this equality going, America. This story is not over yet.