Lt Dan Choi was discharged from the United States Army today for the crime of revealing that he is homosexual.
You may remember Lt. Choi, as we wrote about him earlier in this blog. Members of our group had the pleasure of meeting him at an event in Rockland County, NY. Choi is a graduate of West Point, and has been twice deployed to Iraq. He is an Arabic linguist, with skills that are in high demand.
But he’s gay. And he’s honest about it. So he’s gone. Honorably discharged for a reason that requires him to be dishonorable, and dishonest.
What does this mean for straight spouses and our families? Plenty.
While Lt. Dan Choi and others who serve honorably are required to be discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if they disclose that they are homosexual, there are plenty of straight spouses who are married to gay people who are still active in the military. They are unable to seek help for themselves because they are afraid of outing their spouse, and losing the benefits active military and their dependents rely on. They are afraid to get counseling, see a lawyer about divorce, or confide in a friend, for fear that someone will “tell” and their family will be financially ruined.
Some of those wives are in abusive relationships, and know about the homosexual activity their husbands are engaged in, both on base and while deployed. They suffer in silence, afraid, isolated, cut off from the normal support systems of military families, because they are terrified that someone else will learn the secret. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy actually enables spousal abuse.
Gay people who have families with a partner cannot divulge that relationship. If they are killed in action, it may be days before the partner knows. The partner is not notified, because after all, there are no gay people allowed to serve in the military. The partner cannot legally marry them, even in states where gay people can be legally married, because that would be telling. The partner does not receive survivor benefits, and they and their children cannot take advantage of support systems for families of deployed soldiers. After all, people who serve in the military are not gay, remember?
As the government sanctioned oppression of all spouses and partners of active duty soldiers who are gay but not supposed to be continues, we here at the Straight Spouse Network wish nothing but the best for Lt. Choi. We are confident that he will continue to display the honor, valor, courage, and honesty he has shown in service to his country. We also have reason to believe he will continue to practice the West Point Honor Code “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do” in all his future endeavors.