Two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced new policies for discharging servicemembers under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. These were supposed to be more “humane.” They’re not all that “humane.” And, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) wants to make sure that gay and lesbian servicemembers are still very careful about what they say and to whom they say it. “Third party” outings are still grounds for discharge. Aaron Tax, SLDN’s Legal Director, explained:
The updated language does not change the fact that statements, acts, or same-sex marriage, are still grounds for discharge under DADT, including:
A service member can still be fired if outed by his or her parents;
A service member can still be fired for revealing his or her sexual orientation while making a statement to the police that would prevent or help solve a crime;
A service member’s middle school teacher can still out the service member 10 years after he came out to her in social studies class;
A service member can still be discharged if he reports that someone has threatened to kill him for being gay;
A service member can still be fired for hugging someone of the same sex;
A service member can still be fired for getting married; and
A service member can still be fired for saying she would like to return from Iraq to care for her dying girlfriend.
SLDN can say that under the new Instructions, LGBT service members can now safely talk to psychotherapists and clergy, in their professional capacities; safely talk to a medical professional in furtherance of medical treatment or a public health official in the course of a public health inquiry; and safely seek professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse.
The best way to deal with DADT is to repeal it. In the State of the Union, President Obama promised he’d work to repeal the law “this year.” Time is running out.
What’s worrisome, as SLDN points out, is that many servicemembers may not realize they’re still at risk under the Obama administration’s more “humane” DADT policy. It’s oxymoronic to think that any DADT policy can be “humane.” No matter how the Obama administration administers this law, it’s discrimination.