Alex Blaze

Coming out to get out

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 02, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Air Force, illinois, lesbian, LGBT, robert allardice, woman

One woman who got a civil unioned another woman won't be kicked out of the military:

Lt. Robin R. Chaurasiya wasn't exactly asked, but she told anyway: She is a lesbian, and in a civil union with another woman.

Her commander at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice, could have discharged her under the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Instead, he determined in February that she should remain in the Air Force because she acknowledged her sexual orientation for the purpose of "avoiding and terminating military service."

Of course someone who gets a civil union with another woman might not actually be lesbian or bi. It's very postmodern of the military to recognize that.

But how exactly do they determine whether someone gave evidence of their sexuality just to get out of the military? It seems to be at the discretion of low level officers:

In his Feb. 25 decision ending any administrative discharge action against Chaurasiya, Allardice cited a section of the "don't ask, don't tell" law that allows military commanders to keep service members on active duty if they married a person of the same sex for the purpose of getting out of the military.

Like many cases, Chaurasiya's situation is complicated. She had left active duty in 2007 after serving one year, but was recalled to active duty in 2009.

After she was sent to Scott Air Force Base, a male former service member she had once dated forwarded to her commander a group e-mail in which Chaurasiya had written that she was a lesbian.

After an investigation, Chaurasiya submitted a memorandum to her commander declaring herself a lesbian.

"I want to be respected for it, and if I am going to be disrespected I don't want to be here," Chaurasiya said in an interview.

Chaurasiya said she did not enter into the union or declare herself a lesbian to get a discharge.

"My intention is not to get out," she said. "But if I am going to be kept in and treated unfairly either from my peers or by the military itself . . . then I want to be loud about it to bring about the change, or I do not want to be here."

Is she lying? I have no idea. But going off and civil unioning someone of the same sex instead of just saying "Yep, I'm gay" should at least get her an "A" for effort.

Some people will always be looking for reasons to get out of military service, whether they're being deployed and never thought that it could happen to them, it's different from how they thought it was going to be, or four to nine years is a long time to commit oneself to a certain job and doing it at 18 makes it all the more likely that someone's going to change their mind.

Especially considering lots of 18-year-olds might not think that they have many options outside of joining the military when they're leaving high school and no one's looking to hire them what with jobs continuously being exported and the economy taking a plunge, leaving young, inexperienced workers out of luck. They might want to take their chances a bit later and get out of the military, in which case I'd say more power to them. Considering the size of our military and how haphazardly it gets used, usually just to make rich people richer, a few people leaving isn't going to put anyone at risk.

Either way, though, it seems like the military will need good gaydar as stigma associated with homosexuality drops and people see coming out as a cheap ticket back to civilian life. And then it stops being about asking and telling and starts being about whether people are actually gay or bi.

And isn't that what DADT was supposed to avoid in the first place? Maybe in 1993 it could be assumed that no one would say they were gay unless they actually were. In 2010? Not so much.

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Let me see if I've got this right: anyone who is accused of being gay and wants to keep serving gets kicked out, but people who come right out and say they're gay and don't want to serve are required to stay. What? Is it still April 1st?

WackoTheSane | April 2, 2010 5:44 PM

Joseph Heller, Catch 22

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle."

There is another line of thought, and that is her CO does not like DADT and has figured out a way to get around it.

I love Catch-22!

IMHO DADT could not survive were it to have existed during the Vietnam era. An unpopular war and universal draft would have shredded that convoluted policy within 6 months of its adoption.

1. "Maybe in 1993 it could be assumed that no one would say they were gay unless they actually were." WRONG. Nongays claiming to be gay in order to get out started LONG, LONG ago.

2. The ban on gays in the military did not start with DADT. It started in the early years of World War II and the draft made NO difference.

3. While few claimed to be gay to get out during WWII because most, including most gays, saw it as a "just war," the number who have since was in direct proportion to the "popularity" of every ensuing war. During the Vietnam War, some antiwar groups even coached draftees how to assert a claim of being gay to get out, whether or not they actually were. It worked far less often than legend claims.

Gay Perry Watkins actually got inducted twice despite telling them he was gay [he exited, then reenlisted]. He even became famous on bases around the world for his drag personna "Simone." But, after the Vietnam War ended, and the Pentagon didn't need cannon fodder so much, they discharged him for being gay. He sued, and eventually the Supremes let stand a lower court ruling ordering him readmitted on the issue of "fairness" NOT that the ban itself was wrong.[He declined, accepting an honorable discharge and a large financial settlement instead.]

4. "Cannon fodder trumps gay panic" resulting in "stop loss" also goes all the way back to WWII. As Allen Berube reported in "Coming Out Under Fire," it once took an extreme form then when "the adjutant general ordered the commanding general of the West Coast Air Corps Training Center in California to review the cases of some men ALREADY CONVICTED OF SODOMY 'to determine their respective availability for military service' with "the view of conserving all available manpower for service in the Army'." He canceled the men's dishonorable discharges and made them eligible for reassignment AFTER COMPLETING THEIR PRISON SENTENCES!

In 1945, facing manpower shortages during the final European offensive in Europe, Secty of War, Harry Stimson, ordered a review of all gay discharges and ordered commanders to "salvage" homosexual soldiers for service whenever necessary.

Before and after both the Korean and Vietnam wars, gay discharge #s revealed an obvious stop-loss pattern.

1950, during Korean War - 483 discharges.
1953, when the Armistice was signed - 1353 discharges.

1966 - the Navy alone discharged 1708 gays.
1970 - when the US was deep in Vietnam, they only discharged 461.

5. What's happening to Chaurasiya is only notable because of the added twist of her civil union.

During the first Gulf War, a Pentagon spokesman said in relation to gay discharges, "Any administrative procedure is dependent on operational considerations of the unit that would administer such proceedings."

According to the Palm Center, in the "Army Commander's Handbook," updated in 1999 and still in effect, under the criterion of homosexuality it says: "if discharge is not requested prior to the unit's receipt of alert notification, discharge isn't authorized. Member will enter active duty with the unit."

In 2005, a military spokesperson acknowledged they were sending openly gay service members into combat in Iraq.

Functionally, every decision about whether to discharge is also dependent upon the attitudes of one's commander. But the bottomline is that one cannot expect consistent, rational implementation of a policy based entirely on irrationality.

You did a very nice job of assembling some historical facts. I do not dispute them but my point was somewhat different. When DADT was put in place it was, in my opinion, perpetuating bad practices. I think had it been stated policy in 1966 you would have seen an explosion in attempts to get relieved of active duty leveraging on it as a formally coded policy. That in turn would have led to its replacement by a policy of sexual orientation doesn't matter to Uncle Sam (SODMUS). At least as your own figures seem to indicate military necessity trumps policy.

Well this seems like bureaucracy in action.

Michael @ | April 3, 2010 1:26 PM

"had it been stated policy in 1966"???

You write as if it was a well-kept government secret in 1966 that gays were banned.

Virtually EVERYONE over the age of 12 knew it! In my junior high school in 1961, boys in gym class joked that the only way you could prove you were gay to get out of the draft was to perform fellatio on a Sergeant.

The first gay protest in the U.S. of ANY kind was against the ban on gays in the military and the sharing of discharge records with civilian employers in 1964.

And in the very year you select, 1966, there were protests against the ban in San Francisco [led by Del Martin], Los Angeles [led by Harry Hay], New York City [led by Frank Kameny, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and at the White House & Pentagon [also led by Frank Kameny who then flew to NYC]. Collectively, they garnered more MSM attention than any previous action. An LA Times columnist wrote, β€œIt’s almost tragic that they chose to make their stand for acceptance by demanding the right to join the army. Such a totally impractical idea turns a serious social problem into material for a burlesque skit.”

I believe Bilerico reader Billy Glover was there. Perhaps he has some firsthand memories. For pictures and further commentary about both the 64 & 66 protests, see

’64 protest organizer Randy Wicker talks about it here:

There was no "explosion in attempts to get relieved of active duty" because of the stigma attached with being labeled "queer." The same reason there was no "explosion" in the decades before and the decades since.

PS: I left out earlier that, in 1968, when the Vietnam War was raging, I experienced the military's selective standards personally when they rejected my statement that I was gay, which was a new experience for me as I had been called "queer" from a block away since I was in the 4th grade.