Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Silent Partners: The Other Victims of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

We hear a lot about the reasons to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The fact that having openly gay servicemembers in the armed forces will do absolutely nothing to undermine the effectiveness of the military, whereas discharging gay Arabic translators like Lt. Dan Choi does plenty. There's the exorbitant costs of replacing discharged servicemembers.

Here's something to add to that list: the near-inhuman treatment the partners of gay military members face.

Silent Partners, the new episode of Brave New Foundation's In Their Boots shows loved ones of our armed forces confined to a world far from the tearful reunions on military base tarmacs, let alone the spousal support networks, base access, family assistance centers, and other amenities available to members of "typical" military families.

Under DADT, Ben Cartwright, the longtime partner of a deployed servicemember, must strip the "I love you" from his phone conversations, censor his written correspondence, meet his partner at a gas station rather than on base, and "de-gay" their home when his partner is picked up by his military buddies.

From his new post at HuffPo:

While my partner serves our country during these wars, I receive no benefits (medical benefits, family separation allowance, etc); I cannot access the family and spousal resources on the military base out of which he serves, or take part in military family events. I have no access to "military spouse" support groups and networks. When my partner graduated from military training and when he left for Iraq I had to stand on the sidelines- to vanish, disappear from his life and pretend I did not know him. I was proud to see him off, but heartbroken that I could not give him a hug and what could have been a final kiss goodbye.

Michelle Obama, speaking to military families in March, said, "See, military families have done their duty, and we as a grateful nation must do ours. We must do everything in our power to honor them by supporting them; not just by word but by deed."

An executive order scrapping Don't Ask, Don't Tell sounds like just the deed.

Sign VoteVets.org's petition to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

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