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Lesbian War Veteran Dismissed From Kansas National Guard

Lesbian War Veteran Dismissed From Kansas National Guard

Amy Brian, an Iraq war veteran and a woman who has served with the Kansas National Guard for nine years, was discharged after one of her civilian colleagues reported seeing her kissing another woman in a Wal-Mart checkout line. 

The complaint was sent via several e-mails to superiors at the Kansas National Guard, whereby an investigation was started last August that ultimately led to Brian’s dismissal on Jan. 13, making her the first person to ever be dismissed from the Kansas National Guard under the Federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DODT) policy.

According to the Associated Press, Brian, who was commended for her service, was “separated” from the Guard which resulted in her losing her job and leaving her unable to finish her master’s degree due to the loss of her education benefits provided by military service.

“Everyone … knew I was gay, and no one had a problem with it, [and] it didn’t make a difference when I went to Iraq. It didn’t make a difference when I drove that truck. It didn’t make a difference in my ability to serve my country,” Amy Brian said following her dismissal due to being a lesbian. She went on to comment of her time in the Kansas National Guard, “I was not separated because of any type of misconduct but plain and simply because someone else had a problem with my sexuality.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the only law in the United States of America which makes it legal to fire someone on the basis of their sexuality. A part of it that was later clarified and built on the original policy, reads:

“Sexual orientation will not be a bar to service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. The military will discharge members who engage in homosexual conduct, which is defined as a homosexual act, a statement that the member is homosexual or bisexual, or a marriage or attempted marriage to someone of the same gender.” –quoted in “The Pentagon’s New Policy Guidelines on Homosexuals in the Military”, The New York Times (July 20, 1993), p.A14.

For more information on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, as well as how the military has barred homosexuals from being able to receive a general discharge, please click here.

Amy Brian had returned from Iraq in October 2005 and took a job as a member of the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office, where she quickly received promotion. Her dismissal follows President Obama’s pledge to “build a case against” the DODT law that was created in 1993 by President Clinton as a compromise that would allow gay people to serve in the military after military officials rejected his out and out repeal of the ban on gay and lesbian individuals in the army, calling gays “incompatible” with troop unity.

President Obama has, in the past, been vocal on repealing the law, but has since slowed down efforts, possibly in order to avoid the mistakes that occurred during the Clinton administration which led to DODT in the first place.
 
Today, the political landscape concerning DODT, and against gay and lesbian people as a whole, is very different. A somewhat recent CNN poll suggested 79 percent of the US public favor gay people serving openly in the military, with a dramatic shift in Congressional support finding bilateral approval for a repeal, and even from within the military itself with 104 retired admirals signing their names to a call for the retirement of DODT.

This case serves to highlight the pervasiveness of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which leads gay and lesbian service people to not only stay closeted within the military itself, but to also live their civilian lives in fear of being found out, forcing them to either reside miles from their base, or to avoid being seen with their partner at all times, a measure Amy Brian failed to take and the result of which cost the Iraq war veteran and exemplary servicewoman her livelihood, her education and the life she had built for herself in service of her country. 

If you believe that gay and lesbian people should be allowed to serve openly in the military, please sign this petition to urge President Obama to follow through on his promise of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons attribution license, with thanks to TheFemGeek.

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24 comments

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8:51AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

I do not justify homosexuality, but not see where it would affect anyone serving in the military, or anywhere else. Anyone who has done what she has for her country, even if dismissed, should still receive the benefits. After all, she DID serve! I know allowing this can open a whole new "can of worms", but look at this side of the coin, homosexuality has now become a "norm" in today's society, so what difference should it make. She's already done her duty. Once again, I do not believe in homosexuality, but this is just an opinion based on the circumstances.

Theme Wedding Planner

5:33AM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

very interesting article. good job!

Alex,
Military Computer Financing

2:53AM PST on Feb 15, 2009

leaning yes is my answer because it should begin to seriously break down stereotypes, taboos and homophobia. but going to the military is not the way, not even a good way what with the wars that the u.s. governments have launched/initiated/ supported.

this story of a lesbian getting dismissed is simply ludicrous! if she had killed somebody, she'd probably be decorated. for kissing a woman, she's fired. military values sucks!

10:38PM PST on Feb 12, 2009

Frankly, I don't like how the poll is worded. I'm tempted to answer yes because I believe it would affect the military in a possitive way! When is this country going to wake up and get over this BS? Don't take me wrong here. I don't think that any Gay or Lesbian or ANY minority should go into the military JUST because they need more representation!! You either make the grade or you don't -isn't that being the best we can be?? Would you REALLY care if the one that just saved your life has green skin with 3 tits and 2 johnsons??? I say if they're qualified and love this country ......let's be the best period.

10:26PM PST on Feb 12, 2009

In the early 70s -- Vietnam Era, you know, another time of war -- I served honorably in the USAF, making E5 in less than 3 years w/ letters of commendation. While I did not speak of or openly manifest my sexuality, there never was a problem, but I sure honed my Gaydar! Banning/separating gays from miliatry service is assinine. Don't want to serve with gays? Don't serve -- "We're here, we're queer" whether or not you know it. (At a squadron beer bash in our MAC barracks -- We had a bar for after hours arriving flight crews. -- someone yelled "Anyone who can't tap dance is queer." You would have been stunned, as we were, at how how fast the Sq. Commander jumped on the bar and started dancing!)

10:04PM PST on Feb 12, 2009

A couple of fellows I know and generally respect - leader quality - are homophobes. You have to wonder sometimes if that mindset is a common conjunction that resulted in military culture evolving the way it did.
Life isn't fair : but frankly, I know enough of what vets often end up going through to wonder if she won't be better off on a personal basis.
Have you seen vet suicide stats lately ?
None of which speculation justifies such poor judgment in losing an asset of her caliber to the service.

11:36AM PST on Feb 12, 2009

It doesn't surprise me that the US military industrial complex has no place for 'dissent' of the status quo. OF COURSE such discrimination is despicable and dehumanizing, but so is erasing the individual will of combatants necessary to ensure that they will follow orders to KILL other so-called 'enemies' of the state.

It's a shame this woman has lost the opportunity to complete her education with the moneys available through enrolment in the Forces (and which by all accounts she has earned and should be entitled to). But with all due respect, selling one's soul to the devil comes with a hefty price tag...and I'm not talking about her right to love whomever she chooses. I'm talking about engagement with the war machine.

11:05AM PST on Feb 12, 2009

Shame on the person for telling and having Ms. Brian, who was commended for her service in the military, lose her job! What is the snitch afraid of?

11:05AM PST on Feb 12, 2009

I'll have to say it's a new day! I think people need to get it together, if you want to be a part of the movement that it going on right now. Black and White Unite, it's o.k. to be gay today. Soon these prejudice people will find themselves on the other end of the spectrum and they will know by experience what it feels like, perhaps prejudice people will be a minority! Remember these old adages, do unto others as you would have done to you, and it all comes back to you. Start thinking with compassion think about the song Mellisa Ethridge sang, I could have been you you could have been me! What, just what if you were gay would'nt you want people to accept you after all we were all created by one God. Love, Peace, Equallity and Justice for all.

9:35AM PST on Feb 12, 2009

This whole policy is a terrible waste of human intelligence, skill, and money. Our armed services are already stretched thin, with more and more servicemembers coming home with serious problems. How can we possibly justify keeping someone like Amy from serving her country because of one kiss in a Walmart checkout line? (I see far worse every time I visit a Walmart, including child neglect). Spite is never righteous. The homophobes need to look at the facts, the research, and if reason doesn't persuade them, they need to look at what it costs our society-- dollars and cents-- to perpetuate this discriminatory policy. Can we afford to continue this?

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