WASHINGTON — At a campaign event in Maryland on Friday, President Barack Obama trumpeted the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a signature achievement of his administration. Change, he told the crowd, means that “you don’t have to hide who you love in order to serve the country you love.”
But in the six months since gays and lesbians have been allowed to serve openly in the military, many have remained guarded about their sexuality. A Military Times poll published on March 12 found that just one of the soldiers surveyed had come out to his unit since the repeal of the policy; just 25 of the active-duty soldiers surveyed said they were gay, lesbian or bisexual.
In conversations with The Huffington Post, some gay service members expressed varied reasons for not revealing their sexuality, from habit to wariness and even fear of having a career stalled by disapproving superiors. The one constant complaint, however, was the existence of the Defense of Marriage Act, which remains a powerful psychological and financial deterrent to being fully open.
While most of the service members interviewed had come out to a small number of trusted colleagues, all were hesitant to make their sexuality known to wider circles in their units.
“I’m not going to to come out of the closet until there’s a benefit,” said “Josh,” a Marine reservist in an infantry unit who, like others interviewed for this piece, did not wish to be identified by his real name. “I come out the closet, I cause all this drama with my unit, there’s going to be people that say things. There’s an impact on my career, and then I still can’t give benefits to the person I love. Why? Why would I put myself through all that when I’m not going to get anything out of it?”
The Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996, prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. This means that while gay
This article originally appeared on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/dadt-repeal-six-months-doma_n_1366859.html?ref=politics