The army is in the process of losing a talented college student who likely will be a doctor because of its DADT policy.
Twenty-one year old Sara Isaacson for the past years has worked to follow the footsteps of her grandfather and become an army doctor. But because of conscience, the University of North Carolina senior made the decision this past January to tell the head of her Army ROTC program that she is a lesbian.
An excellent article about her situation, "Coming Out May Cost ROTC Student", in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel written by Sharif Durhams quotes the head of North Carolina’s ROTC program:
Lt. Col. Monte Yoder, the head of North Carolina’s ROTC program, said the Army is losing a "great young American" because of Isaacson’s decision to hand him a letter formally declaring her sexuality. He said he gave Isaacson a chance to withdraw her letter – a step he could take because Isaacson isn’t technically in the military, Yoder said.
Isaacson’s situation is the result of a less well-known effect of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. The law restricts military officials from asking service members about their sexual orientation, but it also requires gays and lesbians to keep quiet about their sexual orientation.
More than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the law since 1994 after being accused of violating the "don’t tell" portion of the policy. That’s the same policy that Barack Obama, in his inauguration address to the nation, promised to change. But DADT is just one of a number of major campaign promises that the Democratic Party leader has broken at a time when his party controls the presidency, the Senate and the House.
Isaacson’s integrity may cost her in another regard: she may be forced to repay $79,265.14, the amount paid by a full ROTC scholarship to cover her out-of-state tuition (she hails from Port Washington, Wisconsin) and books and other educational costs.
The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at UNC, called for abolition of DADT in this editorial on Isaacson’s situation:
The antiquated “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay individuals from serving in the U.S. military has reached an all-time low. Now it has extended its deleterious effects to the University.
Senior Sara Isaacson identified herself as a lesbian to the Army ROTC earlier this semester. The response that followed was nothing short of egregious.
Isaacson was kicked out of the ROTC program and asked to pay the nearly $80,000 she received in scholarship money for the four years she has been at the University. All this because she came out as a lesbian.
Defenders of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy say it allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they are not open about their sexual orientation.
This guise of “neutrality” is nothing more than a superficial façade that serves to cover the blatant discrimination that this policy espouses.
…A stand needs to be made against this awful policy, and there is no better time than now.
The University needs to take a stand against the Army’s action and reassert its opposition to discriminatory policies.
Look at the leadership qualities the army and our nation will lose over this silly policy, a policy that Europeans laugh at. She’s been a member of the UNC marching band, a resident assistant in the dorms and participated in club gymnastics. She also was a standout in the ROTC, attending a 29-day military leadership court in Washington over the summer. And since she wants to be a doctor, her grades (she’s a chemistry major) must be very high.
What a loss for our society. She has spoken to a number of politicians to enlist their support including Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl; Representatives James Sensenbrenner and Tammy Baldwin (herself an outspoken lesbian representing Madison); and the offices of several North Carolina congressmen.
The problem is not public opinion or the opposition of a majority of people to gays in the military. Quite the contrary. As Teddy Partridge has pointed out in a recent diary here, polling shows Americans overwhelming (66% to 31%) regard DADT to be discriminatory and a slightly smaller majority see no threat for gays serving in the military.
But until that "fierce defender" of gay rights, Barack Obama stops dithering, nothing will be done and this dreadful policy will continue to take its toll.