Now that the military’s official “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has been repealed, some servicemembers are left with a lot of questions. That’s why David McKean, Legal Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, live chatted during a Washington Post Q&A at noon Wednesday.
As part of the Post’s weekly ‘The Mil Life’ chat series, which focuses on issues directly affecting the military community, McKean answered questions about life after “don’t ask, don’t tell,” including issues affecting both gay and straight members of the community.
Read three frequently asked questions McKean answered after the jump:
Question: “I see in today’s local newspaper that a woman who left the Air Force for being gay will be rejoining the Air Force. How easy/difficult is it for someone who left the military for being gay to reenlist?” (link)
McKean: “For those who were kicked out under DADT and who received honorable discharges, and who are otherwise qualified to serve - they will be allowed to apply to re-enter the military just like anyone else who has prior service. This will mean that all service qualifications (age, physical fitness, need for skills, etc.) will apply. Those who are able to re-enter will be accepted based on their qualifications and the needs of the service.”
Question: “Good morning, I am not a member of the military but I am a government civilian working on an Air Force base in Massachusetts. I’m really interested to see how benefits such as base housing, health insurance, support for spouses, etc., will evolve now that military members can openly marry in our state. The military was integrated long before most of society; it will be interesting to see how their policies on rights and benefits for gay spouses will influence national discussion.” (link)
McKean: “Some benefits may now be extended to service members’ spouses or partners, but not many. Benefits like housing and health insurance are barred by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Title X, which is military code. In order for these benefits to be extended, DOMA must be repealed.”
Question: “I really hope that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is reinstated when the Republicans take the presidency in the upcoming election. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ makes good clean sense. It’s totally fair, and enables military members to not feel uncomfortable and threatened by soldiers who are gay and try to come onto them. In your opinion, what are the chances of a Republican administration reinstating ‘don’t ask, don’t tell?’” (link)
McKean: “Several of the GOP candidates have expressed interest in ‘repealing the repeal’ of DADT, but polling shows that 80 percent of the American people support the open service of gay and lesbian patriots, and our nation’s senior military leaders support repeal and are among the key players in getting this done. Any president could reverse this enormous step forward, but I think it would be an unpopular move given the military’s strong support for repeal.”
See what else readers asked and what McKean had to say by reading the entire Q&A transcript.