It was discouraging to learn overnight about an airman being discharged from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” After all, DADT repeal is well underway, and it seemed unreasonable that the Obama administration would throw qualified service-members out of the military for being gay so close to the policy’s official end. The news sparked another round of criticism from the gay-rights community of the White House.
The truth, however, is a little more complicated.
Air Force officials confirmed that an unidentified airman was dismissed under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law earlier this year, the first such firing since defense officials effectively put a moratorium on the law in October.
However, service officials emphasized the move came at the request of the airman, who requested to be released from military service despite the imminent repeal of the law banning openly gay troops.
“In this instance, the airman first class made a statement that he was a homosexual,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Joel Harper said Friday. “After making the statement but prior to the commander initiating separation action, the airman wrote the secretary of the Air Force asking to be separated.
“After the separation action was initiated, the individual was informed of the current status of the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and he reaffirmed to the [Air Force secretary] that he desired his separation action be expeditiously processed.”
By all appearances, this airman, for whatever reason, simply wanted out of the military. He was offered a chance to keep serving, and asked to be removed anyway. Indeed, since October, this one individual is literally the only person to have been dismissed from the military because of sexual orientation.
Clearly, the sooner the DADT policy is brought to an official end, the better. But to characterize this incident as a betrayal from the administration appears to be an unfair criticism.