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57 J. Legal Educ. 187 (2007)
Telling: Living with Don't Ask, Don't Tell

handle is hein.journals/jled57 and id is 195 raw text is: Telling: Living with Don't Ask,
Don't Tell
Shalanda H. Baker
What are you going to do, Lieutenant, tell the cops your girlfriend beat
you up? The words of my ex-girlfriend haunt me almost a decade after their
utterance. At the time, I was a mere twenty-three years old and in an abusive
relationship with another woman, and I was also an officer in the United States
Air Force. I had sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United
States, yet, if I told my employer that my life was in danger, I would have run
up against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy,' a policy that effectively forces
gay and lesbian service members to live a double life. Indeed, all of the ironies
of my existence hung in the air with the single question of my abuser. What
was I going to do?
Fortunately, I ended the relationship shortly after its climax that early
morning in Los Angeles, but I was still left with the question of what to do.
I did eventually tell, and after undergoing a dehumanizing administrative
discharge proceeding before a Board of Inquiry in which my integrity as a
military officer was questioned, I was discharged and ordered to pay back the
costs of my college education.,
In this article, I explain why this law must be altogether eradicated. I offer a
brief snapshot of my background and the march down the road that eventually
led me to come out to the military. I then describe the consequences of my telling
Shalanda Baker is an associate at the law firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP. From 2005 through
200E6L, she clerked for the Honorable Roderick L. Ireland of the Massachusetts SupremeJudicial
The policy regarding gays in the military was codified into law in 1993. See io U.S.C § 654
(200E5L) (hereinafter Policy). For a detailed history on the law's origins and the various com-
promises struck by policymakers and then-President William Jefferson Clinton, visit the
web page of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) at About Don't Ask, Don't
Tell, available at <http://www.sldn.org/templates/dadt/index.html?section=42> (last visited
Sept. 1, 2007).
2.  I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in May of 1998. 1 was discharged in
August of 20oi. The Air Force prorated my educational expenses based on my time served.
As a result, I was billed approximately $48,ooo because, at the time of my discharge from
the military, two years of my service commitment remained out of the required five-year
commitment for service academy graduates, See 10 U.S.C. § 200E5L(a)(3) (2005) (describing
payment requirements when a military member receives education benefits and does not
fulfill a required service commitment attached thereto).

Journal of Legal Education, Volume 57, Number 2 (June 2007)

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