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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

No More Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!

 

2010 brought many changes to the U.S., landmark events that only history will be able to judge.  One that marks a turn in public momentum is the repeal of the 1993 Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Act, signed into legislation by then-President William Clinton.

December 22, 2010 President Barack Obama followed through with a campaign promise to the lesbian and gay communities across the nation by signing the repeal of the 17 year old measure.  The President has thus allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.

Even with landmark choices for change, questions arise which leave us wondering “what comes next?” or “what exactly does this mean?” I talked with students in the UMass Boston community; here are some of the questions that have come up. ***the answers to the following questions are solely the opinions of the author of this article and do not represent ANY other body***

Is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell done?

There are a number of steps left to complete before the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are happy and willing to let the policy be completed on the “ground” level.  There is a study due to be completed. Once the U.S. Defense Secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the U.S. President certify that repeal would not harm military effectiveness there will be a waiting period. After 60 days the new repeal will go into effect.

As of this moment only flag officers may initiate discharge proceedings, and more stringent rules of evidence are used during discharge proceedings. Before all it took was anyone going to the chain of command and making an accusation. An investigation would begin; when evidence was found, that service member was “administratively separated” with either a “general” or “other than honorable” discharge from military service.  Now it means accusations go to the top officers of a command (i.e. Commanding Officer, Executive Officer or Command Master Chief) and only the flag officers can determine whether or not an investigation will happen. Of course, the CO can assign someone to do the work, then make a decision based on the other officer (or enlisted personnel) findings.

What is the process if I’m still active?

It is still not safe, from a legal standpoint, to be in the military and be openly out of the closet.  There are still steps the White House want completed before it’s ok to be openly gay in the military. Still, being gay, lesbian or bisexual doesn’t affect your ability to perform your duty, to serve in the military, or to have the values, morals and personal characteristics needed to put on the uniform. We, the LGBT military community, have been doing our jobs, rising through the ranks in every branch, doing all types of service. We are enlisted all the way up to E9; we are officers – up to (that I know personally) O5, Males and Females, Special Forces and Combat Forces.  

What is the opinion of veterans?

I served 9 years in the U.S. Navy (1995 – 1998 & 2001 – 2008, twice medically retired), I am a Puerto Rican/Black/German female born and raised in Newton, MA. When I turned 8 years old I realized I liked girls. When I got to junior high I realized I like guys too.  I did a great job in the Navy. if I hadn’t been medically retired (again) in 2008 I would have retired in 2020.  I was one of a group of women placed on a combat ship for the first time in 1996.  I was, and am, a terrific Air Intercept Controller. I was trained by the best, and they knew who I was. I knew who I was. I didn’t flaunt it. I didn’t need to, but I didn’t hide it either. I did my job well and was promoted for it.

What if I’m transgendered?

This is hard to answer, mainly because the answer is unfair.

As of right now there is no place in any branch of the military for someone of the trans community.

As unfair, separatist, and wrong that may sound, it is the plain and simple truth. To put it bluntly, logistically speaking it would be a nightmare. Here is a scenario: your medical record, identification and service record all list you as male. You walk in the door and they see female. Where do you sleep: in a berthing with 80 females or with 120 males? Where do you shower? The military had a hard time integrating women on combat ships. Congress approved the measure in 1994, but it was 1995-96 before it was actually implemented. I was placed on one of the destroyers in 1996; 15 years later they are still having issues.

How much harder would it be to put someone who doesn’t legally and physically fall into either gender?

What will the military look like in the future?

Good question. I don’t know where to begin to contemplate. I would like to believe that it would be close to SeaQuest DSV TV show in the 90’s, without the alien episode arch. We will have to wait and see.