Dear Tracy Baim:
I wonder if even the people active in the effort to get rid of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell know the long history of our community/movement attempt to get justice in the Armed Forces.
The article/viewpoint of Jeff Fulton in the current issue of Windy City Times is a small contribution to getting this history on the record (DADT: A Historical Perspective).
Since May of 1966 we have been dealing with the military over the issue of homosexuals in the Armed Forces. At that time the inductees (men) were asked about their sexuality — which we obviously opposed, as is the basis of the effort today. But as Fulton points out even though the men were asked, the hope was that they would not answer, as the military needed bodies to serve in Vietnam. And, as we in Los Angeles had to deal with, the Army actually tried to ignore the “checked box” and drafted some men anyway.
So Don Slater led the legal battle, taking the issue to court, with the aide of Dr. Evelyn Hooker, friendly attorneys and as far as I remember not one of the dozen or so men whose case was handled were actually drafted. Others were. And, as the military, and I’m sure the courts, as well as we, knew that some of the men who said they were homosexual were not.
And as far as we know, the men we helped had no problems in their future, although only a few ever contacted us later in their life or did any work for the cause. We have the records of these men in Homosexual Information Center Archives at Cal state Northridge. I wonder where they are today, these man years later and if they have any thoughts of helping the young men and women today still fighting that battle.