This sample essay written by a professional writer at Ultius custom writing services explores about the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and analyzes the law – then and now.
Introduction to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The oppressive policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which made it illegal to be in the military if gay or lesbian was repealed in 2011 by a proud Commander and Chief, and since that time the world has celebrated greater freedom of expression in sexual rights. While this is wonderful progress, the LBGTQ community advocates that not enough is being done to bring reparation to the nearly 80,000 service members who were dishonorably discharged for their sexual preference since WWII. Although Gaeta and Snell made history in the US Navy, and Legar and Vautour made history in Canada, military culture still has a long way to go towards real inclusion which will honor the strengths of each diverse individual.
Giving a kiss
It is a tradition in the military for the first service person off the plane/boat to kiss the person who has come to welcome them home. Soon after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this occurred in Little Creek in Virginia Beach in 2011 when Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta embraced her girlfriend, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell (Reilly). This tradition is now organized, and the couple knew they would be under scrutiny as the first lesbians to participate openly.
As Citlalic awaits her beloved, she is informed by a liaison how the tradition will be celebrated. Citlalic is, a sailor herself, assigned to the destroyer Bainbridge, but today she’s in civilian clothes – jeans, boots and a stylish leather jacket.
Watching pier-side as the Oak Hill pulls into port, she absentmindedly twists the small diamond ring on her left hand…The liaison asks whether she’s nervous. “Sort of,” Snell admits. (Reilly)
The couple had mentally prepared to become emblematic of their particular brand of love and admits that they understand this type of expression has been a long time in coming. Their kiss was simple, brief, and beautiful (Reilly). It took the male side of the tradition a bit of time to warm up to the idea of gay rights and military self-expression. In 2015 two Californian gay men made history in the United States. This year, for the first time in Canada two men shared the ceremonial homecoming kiss. Master Seaman Francis Legar and his partner, Corey Vautour became emblematic of the right and freedom to love whomever one chooses whether independent or in the military.
Commenting on this, Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier, commander of the Pacific Navy admitted, “We are reflective of society and we do recruit across all across society…If we don’t adapt, we won’t have any sailors joining” (Malpani).
That is the truth of it – ultimately the public has the freedom to change their culture if only they have the courage to be authentic.
President Barack Obama’s take on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The limitations and frustrations which President Obama has been subject to during his terms in office truly shaved off the scope of what he could have accomplished, but even with those limitations, he was able to bring many positive ideas to fruition. His passion and decisiveness will likely be missed, as:
“Hillary Clinton has defended her husband’s decision to sign the law as a lesser evil, and Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have come out in favor of repealing the repeal” (Ennis).
The President shared his thoughts on the repealing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last year with the public on Facebook. Sharing one motivation for making LGBTQ rights a priority, he wrote,
From the boardroom to the locker room, LGBT Americans still face prejudice in their daily lives. In far too many states, people still live in fear of being fired from their jobs just because they’re gay. Young people struggling with their gender identities are bullied and beaten and told they don’t belong. That kind of prejudice has no place in our country, and as Americans, we need to let everyone of them know that they are not alone. These are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. We stand with you, and we’re here to help you grow up strong and confident and proud of who you are. (Ennis)
The reality of the national and global character is that humanity is far more diverse than most people would suspect. The progress made in LGBTQ rights could be lost if the public engages in backsliding due to fear, mistrust, and misplaced scapegoating.
Present initiatives and future status
The LGBTQ community is vigilant as they advocate for their rights both now, in the future, and in demanding reparations for past injustices. Since WWII an average of 80,000 troops in the United States were discharged for their sexual preferences. The restoration has to do with changing their discharge status from dishonorable to honorable, as well as restoring the benefits that they earned through their service.
Advocates emphasize that anyone with, “a less-than-Honorable Discharge experiences some degradation of benefits—from a loss of the G.I. Bill for those with a General Discharge, to a loss of health care, to a complete loss of all benefits for those with a Dishonorable Discharge” (Ismay).
These delineations make a big difference to the individuals in questions, but so far, not to the veterans’ board. While there has been a path opened for these veterans to apply for their discharge and benefits status to be changed, many veterans say this process is unnecessarily cumbersome.
Corpsman Veronkia Fimbers
Sometimes this process requires expensive legal action, as in the case of Corpsman Veronkia Fimbers, who, served stateside during the Vietnam War. A transgender woman, she lived as a man at the time and said she had no concept of her sexuality in those young years. She did realize she was different, constantly subjected to harassment by her peers. A Navy psychiatrist diagnosed her as “latent homosexual,” and her military career ended.
“I was discharged ‘General, Under Honorable Conditions,’ although my work was exemplary and everything I did was honorable,” Fimbres said, noting that she was merely “perceived” to be homosexual. (Ismay)
Fimbers still takes great pride in her accomplishment during her service and would like to celebrate that.
She expresses, “There’s nothing like an Honorable Discharge. I would like one that’s suitable for framing to put on my wall to show that I served my country honorably—which I did” (Ismay).
The desire to take pride and pleasure in serving ones’ country is the essential core of the military, and sexual preference (or perceived preference) should have no bearing on such matters. Understanding the unnecessarily difficult process of righting the wrongs done by discrimination, Congressman Charlie Rangel, a New York State Democrat has introduced a bill that would automatically upgrade a veteran’s discharge status and benefits if they were discriminated against for their sexual identification (Ismay).
Rangel comments, “It was the government that committed the act of processing the person out with a Dishonorable Discharge, the least we can do is correct it” (Ismay).
So far Rangel’s passion has not been shared with enough of congress to have this bill passed.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the repeal
While not much will come of wondering what the next Commander and Chief will do with his/her pen, the question remains today if the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will actually mean a change in policy, or if it will only be a shield for more subtle discrimination. However, a recent move in government supports the reality of the positive change created through the repeal of the discriminatory law. Eric Fanning has been appointed as Acting United States Secretary of the Army in November 2015 by President Obama. The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved Fanning’s nomination and the final piece of this new puzzle was the entire Senate’s confirmation of his post in May (White).
Secretary of Defense Eric Fanning
Fanning is an openly gay man and would be the first gay man to hold this high role in the military. This is not a token post either, Fanning’s well-qualified for the post. His accomplishments read like medals across a general’s uniform. He served as the Army secretary’s principal adviser on management and operation of the service. He was undersecretary of the Air Force and the acting secretary of the Air Force. His entire professional life is one of exemplary public service. (White) Fanning’s appointment is evidence that the change of tides may be rushing along for real.
Fanning’s line of questioning before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (a military job interview of sorts) did not concern his private life or sexual orientation but focused on matters of state which his job would relate to such as sexual assaults in the military, fighting ISIS, and defense spending.
As such, he was asked, “Is the United States winning the war against ISIS? How long until Iraqi troops regain control of Mosul? What’s the status of the military’s plan to integrate women into combat roles?” (Koren).
His appointment makes him the highest-ranking openly gay official in the United States, a groundbreaking cultural evolution a long time in coming.
Also, the fact that the Senate confirmed his position by unanimous vote means that the trend of the nation is towards inclusion in 2016 (Koren). This is encouraging in the face of so much racially and stereotyped bickering in the presidential nominee race.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign said of this, “Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces” (Koren).
This form of subdued celebration is met with more flamboyant celebration as openly gay members of the military held a drag show this year on a military base (Thomas). Excited by the ability to share their talent as well as the camaraderie of their culture, this was another historical marker in a year filled with firsts. The performance was made up of, six gay, lesbian, and straight service members traded in their military uniforms for some glitz and glam, performing in drag at a fundraising event at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.
The show was organized to raise money for Okinawa’s first chapter of OutServe-SLDN, the largest advocacy group for the military’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, reports Stars and Stripes. (Thomas) Celebration is in the air, and effective progress is being made on LGBTQ rights in the military. More is needed around the nation to help this community escape all kinds of persecution for their choice of who to love. This is a step in the right direction, one that the community is celebrating in style.
Ennis, Dawn. “5 Years After Ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ President Obama ‘Couldn’t Be Prouder’.” The Advocate, 22 Dec. 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.advocate.com/military/2015/12/22/5-years-after-ending-dont-ask-dont-tell-president-obama-couldnt-be-prouder
Ismay, John. “4 years after the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ much is left undone.” SCPR.org, 5 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/04/05/59224/4-years-after-the-repeal-of-dont-ask-dont-tell-muc/
Koren, Marina. “The First Openly Gay Army Secretary in U.S. History.” The Atlantic, 18 May 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/eric-fanning-army-secretary/483291/
Malpani, Aashna. “WATCH: The first Same-Sex Homecoming Kiss for Canada’s Navy.” The Advocate, 24 Feb. 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.advocate.com/world/2016/2/24/watch-first-same-sex-homecoming-kiss-canadas-navy
Reilly, Corinne. “Two women’s first kiss at homecoming a first for Navy, too.” Pilotonline.com, 21 Dec. 2011. Retrieved from: http://pilotonline.com/news/military/two-women-s-first-kiss-at-homecoming-a-first-for/article_c06bc75a-225b-5a03-84de-4871b7ab42a0.html
Thomas, Emily. “Gay And Lesbian Military Members Perform Drag Show.” Huffington Post, 3 Mar. 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/military-drag-show_n_4891324.html
White, Greg. “U.S. Senate: Confirm Eric Fanning as Secretary of the Army.” Huffington Post, 6 Apr. 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-white/us-senate-confirm-eric-fanning_b_9621672.html