To Whom It May Concern:
When Air Force physician Monica Hill’s partner of 14 years, Terry, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Monica requested a leave of absence to care for her. Sadly, two months later, Terry died on September 11, 2001. While still coping with the tragic loss of her partner, Monica was involuntarily discharged from the military because she had violated the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy when she asked to be at her dying partner’s side.
Despite the fact that Monica was a competent surgeon and decorated captain who was dedicated to her country and fellow soldiers, she was forced out of the career that had been her life-long dream because she told the truth.
The truth about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or DADT, is that it promotes dishonor. Most Americans do not understand the policy and its impact on our country’s Armed Forces. A new documentary currently in production needs your support to tell stories like Monica’s.
Monica lost her partner and her chosen livelihood, and she thought that things couldn’t get worse, but then they did. Shortly after her discharge, Monica received a bill from the military demanding that she repay $65,000 – the cost of her medical education.
Dr. Hill is one of more than 10,000 valuable military personnel whose careers have been cut short because of DADT, a policy that demands that honorable women and men live a lie in order to serve their country.
At a time when our nation struggles to fill its ranks with qualified soldiers who are willing to protect and defend our country, the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” ban against gays in the military deters the enlistment and retention of capable men and women who would gladly and proudly serve America.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell don’t work.
As thousands of soldiers leave or are forced to resign from military because of DADT, it has become clear that the policy has failed. The policy, which was implemented by President Clinton in 1993 to stop “witch hunts” and protect service members from intrusive questioning about their sexual orientation, has failed in its objective. Since the policy has been in force, more soldiers have been questioned, harassed, and ultimately discharged due to their sexual orientation than before the policy existed.
Many soldiers are persecuted simply because they are perceived to be gay, such as Master Sergeant David A. Cooper a heterosexual, married man and a father who had served 22 years in the U.S. Air Force. After two civilians made vague allegations that he had engaged in homosexual conduct at a nightclub -- accusations contradicted by Cooper’s wife and seven witnesses at the club, his command informed him he was being discharged under DADT.
Despite the premise of DADT that a service member should never be asked about his or her sexual orientation, that’s exactly what happened to Steve Loomis, discharged by the Army eight days before his retirement date, following an improper investigation of his sexual orientation. The Lieutenant Colonel, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and recipient of a Purple Heart Medal has filed suit challenging the constitutionality of DADT.
Reichen Lehmkuhl, who was trained in the Air Force as an engineer, resigned at the end of his commitment to the military insteat of pursuing a career with the armed forces. One factor that influenced his decision was an incident in which an enlisted woman at his base spread rumors that he was gay. If Reichen had stayed, he would have likely faced an intrusive investigation into his private life. Reichen completed his pilot training as a civilian, and today, instead of defending America, he now works in the private sector as president and chief executive officer of his own private jet charter company.
DADT’s cost in terms of lost investment in the training of military personnel has had a measurable economic impact on our nation’s Armed Forces. It is estimated that the Department of Defense (D.O.D.) has spent more than $1.2 billion of American’s tax dollars to recruit, train, educate and then discharge capable men and women over the past 11 years. The D.O.D. is the only U.S. employer authorized to legally discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Additionally, this loss of personnel directly impacts our military’s ability to defend and protect our nation. Hundreds of those discharged held mission-critical job specialties that required years of training and expertise including, 49 nuclear, biological and chemical warfare experts, 88 Army linguists, 90 nuclear power engineers and 150 experts in rocket, missile and other artillery.
The public needs to know the effect of DADT not only on the personal lives of those persecuted by the policy but on our country, economically and militarily.
Dream Out Loud, in association with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), has begun development of a feature-length film documentary, presenting an updated perspective on the implications of DADT.
Servicemembers Legal Defense is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and related forms of intolerance.
Dream Out Loud, a California-based non-profit, 501(c)3 organization and award-winning producer of films exploring social and human rights issues, is seeking tax-deductible contributions for the production and distribution of this film. With a working budget estimated at $525,000 we are currently accepting contributions with plans to begin production in January 2005. The targeted release date for the film is December 2005.
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We hope you will see the importance and need for the making of this film and the impact it will have on the lives of so many Americans.