I'm going to be participating in SLDN's "Stories from the Frontlines" campaign to encourage (I'd prefer to say "force") President Obama to live up to his promise, in the 2010 State of the Union address, that he would end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year. I won't go into the whole sordid history of that promise and the backpedaling the Obama administration has since done on it. Suffice it to say that he made the promise, and he told us himself on the night he was elected that it was up to us to hold his feet to the fire and make him do what he promised. Consider this ongoing effort part of that process.
"Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama" is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal. The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993. By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes! We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.
April 30, 2010
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
I am the mother of two young children, and an Iraq war veteran. I joined up just like my dad – a retired Army officer – and my sister, who currently serves in the Guard. My brother is a reservist and has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Two weeks ago, our family gathered together as he is leaving again for Afghanistan -- his 4th deployment. Even my husband, Jay, served as an officer in the Air Force until 2008.
Like my dad, I chose the Army. I reached the rank of Captain and was a platoon leader in the military police. I was there during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
I had some of the best NCO's (non-commissioned officers) in the Army who could accomplish any mission. Several members of my platoon received decorations for valor during the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On my last day of active duty, some of my old squad leaders revealed to me that one of my former team leaders was gay. They figured it was safe to tell me, as I was leaving the Army. My first feelings on the matter were, frankly, a little surprised, followed by complete indifference.
I was surprised because I had never suspected the soldier of being gay. But then, I never really had any thoughts about her sexual orientation whatsoever.
When I reflected on it, it didn't make one bit of difference in how she performed her job or how she related to the other soldiers in the platoon. She had the respect of her squad leaders (fairly conservative men, mind you), who kept her secret and continued working with her side-by-side for years.
As an officer, I would have been bound by my position to report such "credible information" that would have led to the discharge of a great NCO. I am glad that I was never placed in the position of having to choose between one of my soldiers and enforcing this terrible law, which I feel is unfair and wrong.
Please, Mr. President – at this critical time – do not allow those serving their country to be forced to choose between good, honorable soldiers, and upholding an unfair law.
Please, do not continue to allow gays and lesbians in the service to have to choose between hiding a part of their identity and continuing to serve their country.
Please, help Congress repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" now.
Former Capt. Rebecca H. Elliott
United States Army