by Patrick Appel
A reader writes:
Worse. Undoubtably. Technically, that's always been the policy, so it didn't change much. But as a reader mentioned, before DADT the policy was more about conduct at least in the minds of the commanding officers, not the mere mention of the fact that one was gay or had those inclinations.
I joined the Army National Guard in 1988 and was called up for a time in Korea, Desert Storm and Bosnia. When I was called up for Desert Storm in 1991, I went overseas with my local unit. Several men there were my best friends (straight), including my commanding officer. There was something about going off to war that made my life clear. I had come out only months before being called up. I felt it was necessary to tell my commanding officer and I did. His response was, paraphrased, "well, just conduct yourself like you always do."
DADT ruined that detente.
Years later, I moved to New York and joined an Army Reserve unit. My commanding officer in my previous unit told me not to mention anything to anyone. I didn't. Even the mention of my sexuality to anyone would lead to my discharge. No proven conduct, no proven anything. Just a mention. Whereas before DADT, I was circumspect about mentioning anything about my sexuality because of personal reasons, DADT codified that silence with serious consequences.
For me, it was worse. I never forgave Clinton for that. The way he brought it up, the way he capitulated to the Republicans and conservative Democrats (he was my commanding officer for god sakes). I campaigned for him in 1992, after DADT and DOMA, I sat on my hands till this century. I have high hopes for Obama reversing Clinton's most egregious mistakes. The repeal of DADT was a wonderful start.
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