Lt. Robin R. Chaurasiya, now 24 and stationed in Illinois, was just done with the Air Force. She left active duty in 2007, after joining ROTC as a 17-year-old, but thanks to those wars going on, was recalled in 2009. And it’s not that she wasn’t committed to serving her country. It’s that she didn’t want to serve her country when her country wouldn’t serve her — as an equal. But even after her superiors were made aware of her sexuality, and that she had a civil union with a woman, they refused to discharge her. Because, they claimed, she had gone gay just to get out.
Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice, Chaurasiya’s commander at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, could have easily swept her out of the armed forces based on her declaration of being gay, and engaging in HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT! But Allardice refused, because he believed, or at least filled out the paperwork asserting as much, that Chaurasiya was using her civil union just to duck service.
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.”
So there you have it: If a soldier declares herself to be gay but still wants to serve, she can be dismissed. If she declares herself to be gay but wants to leave, she must stay.
Here’s the first letter Chaurasiya wrote Lt. Allardice:
Approximately one week ago, you read me an email that was forwarded to you, purportedly from me, stating that I was homosexual. You then stated that you would be upset if someone was “making claims against my character” and that you would not believe I wrote this email unless I raised my hand, looked you in the eye, and told you I was gay. This upset me tremendously, as I did not understand why someone’s homosexuality would impugn their character as you described. However, increasingly, I realize that in order to live up to the Air Force’s core value of “integrity first,” I need to be honest about my sexual orientation. Therefore, I am writing this memorandum to inform you that I am homosexual. For years, I was forced to choose between being in the military and hiding my sexual orientation or not serving in the military and being honest about my sexual orientation. After years of choosing the first option, I feel that I can no longer adequately and honestly serve as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
I have been dating females since I was thirteen years old. Throughout my affiliation with the military, though, I have tried to conceal my orientation. Over the past year, however, surrounded by supportive communities and separated from the military’s homophobic culture, I have been able to live more openly. Since coming back onto active duty, though, my attempts to conceal my orientation have tremendously impacted my abilities to function both at work and in my personal life, causing me stress beyond a manageable level. ….
I do not foresee myself being able to honestly, openly and successfully fulfill my duties as an officer while being forced to conceal who I am. The past month has reinforced for me how difficult it will be to conceal my sexuality and my future relationships, as well as the stress that my attempts to do so will cause. Thus, while I am willing to serve my country, it must be openly…..
I also understand that under the “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell. Don’t Pursue. Don’t Harass,” military regulations, directives, and policies, I am not to be asked questions about sexual behavior [Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) Memo, 12 August 1999: Implementation of Recommendations Concerning Homosexual Conduct Policy], and that you will act to prevent any harassment or other discrimination against me while my discharge is being processed.
Here’s Lt. Allardice’s reply memo: