Back on Jan. 26, Army 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao wrote a letter to her new commander in chief, Barack Obama. It said, in part:
“Today is Chinese New Year day. I hope it will bring good fortune to you and your newly elected office. Today is also the day I inform my chain of command of who I am. One of the seven Army values is integrity. It means choosing to do the right thing no matter what the consequences may be. As a Christian, this also means living an honest life…”
As part of living an honest life, a life of integrity, Tsao felt compelled to tell her commanding officers that she was gay. As part of military policy and federal law, her commanding officers felt compelled to dismiss her from the service. Tsao knew that would be the outcome. As she wrote Obama:
“We have the best military in the world and I would like to continue to be part of it. My mother can tell you it is my dream to serve our country. I have fought and overcome many barriers to arrive at the point I am at today. This is the only battle I fear I may lose. Even if it is too late for me, I do hope, Mr. President, that you will help us to win the war against prejudice so that future generations will continue to work together and fight for our freedoms regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.”
Last week, the following arrived in the mail to Tsao, on White House stationery:
It’s a nice sentiment. The fact that Obama took the time to respond, and to so explicitly and personally commit to changing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, suggests that he takes it very seriously and intends to follow through.
In the meantime, however, the policy continues to be enforced. Army Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point grad and infantry platoon leader in the New York National Guard who is fluent in Arabic, is being dismissed. Choi, who recently returned from Iraq, forced the issue when he went public about his sexuality in an interview on MSNBC on March 19.
“”I intend fully to fight it tooth and nail,” Choi said upon receiving notice of dismissal. “I believe that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is wrong, and what we really need to be encouraging soldiers to do is to don’t lie, don’t hide, don’t discriminate, and don’t weaken the military. That’s what we need to be promoting.”