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.
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”.