CMU grad studet shares her experience under Don't Ask, Don't Tell in PG

I caught this op/ed piece in Sunday's Forum section of the Post-Gazette a little later in the afternoon.  I'm glad I held off writing about it because some interesting contextual information on DADT has since been released. 

CMU graduate student Karen Mesko shared her painful journey as a member of the Reserves which she entered after realizing that being in the closet as a gay woman would be too difficult for full-time enlistment. 

One part struck me. Because some of her coworkers at her civilian day job were also Reservists, she didn't even have the luxury of being out in her civilian life.  That one factor created a permanent wedge, she writes.

This sounds like a horrible way to live and a succint explanation of how DADT has a negative impact on the troops it ostensibly exists to protect.  Forcing people to lie to one another erodes the cohesion necessary for full effectiveness. 

It also erodes the human beings living with this weight on their shoulders.  We don't know if Mesko's work environment would have been welcoming to her identity as a lesbian, but the presence of other Reservists trumped whatever environment the corporate culture created.  Other Reservists can be anywhere and I had never considered that prior to this article. 

Kudos to Karen for sharing her story.  I urge you to read in its entirety.

In related news, Servicemembers United announces that Senator Lieberman will introduce legislation to repeal DADT.

“I have been asked by both the White House and by advocacy groups within the gay rights community to be the lead sponsor, and I’m glad to do it,” Lieberman is quoted as saying.

Debate over the repeal process itself has been swirling for months (years?).  Legislative action or Presidential decree?  Time frames?  It is incredibly complicated. I've been following the blog/national LGBT organization debate for months and I'm still confused.

SU's press release has this to say

To strengthen the prospects for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and to reduce political risk, the President can still order the Pentagon to include “Set End-date / Delayed Implementation” repeal language in one of the legislative policy transmittals that will soon be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees by the Department of Defense. These policy proposal packages serve as indications of White House and Pentagon support for policy changes to be included in the next National Defense Authorization Act.

Additionally, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee could insert Senator Lieberman’s new bill into the Chairman’s mark of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which will soon be drafted. Such a move, especially in combination with the Presidential action through Pentagon policy transmittals, could turn out to be the path of least resistance for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and could help shield vulnerable members of the President’s and the Chairman’s own party.

From what I gather, most folks agree to suspect implementation of the policy so no one else will be discharged and the establistment of termination date for the policy.  Its just that no one wants to be the fall guy in the 2010 midterm elections. 

Another related note. The New York Times runs a piece on research indicating the LGBTQ soldiers don't disrupt units as has been much ballyhooed by opponents of the repeal.

The 151-page study, which updates existing studies on gay service members in Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa and other countries, offers the first broad look at the issue in foreign militaries since Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell” earlier this month.

The report concludes that in foreign militaries, openly gay service members did not undermine morale, cause large resignations or mass “comings out.” The report found that “there were no instances of increased harassment” as a result of lifting bans in any of the countries studied.

In addition, the report says that none of the countries studied installed separate facilities for gay troops, and that benefits for gay partners were generally in accordance with a country’s existing benefits for gay and lesbian couples.

On implementation, the study said that most countries made the change swiftly, within a matter of months and with what it termed little disruption to the armed services. Mr. Frank said the study did not look at what happened if the change was implemented gradually because, he said, “I don’t think any of the militaries tried it.”

Rip the bandaid off quickly and be done with it.  The US is going for a more delayed approach; I wonder if this data will have any impact?

Can we really afford to lost any more thoughtful, bright, articulate women like Karen Mesko before this is resolved?

Specter supports the repeal.  Casey hasn't taken a public stance.


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