A United States military veteran’s ability to receive benefits, such as preference in federal employment is, in part, based upon the reason for discharge. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) members of the military may be dishonorably discharged under the “policy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces,” commonly referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Under this policy, the reason for discharge on a service member’s papers may be listed as “homosexual conduct,” “homosexual act,” or “homosexual admission.” One major discriminatory effect of this policy is that, given the narrative reason that appears on the dis-charge form, this policy effectively forces LGB veterans to reveal their sexual orientation to any employer who requests to see these discharge papers (a process colloquially referred to as “outing,” a term which will be used throughout this article).
This article will argue that even if the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 is passed and DADT is repealed, veterans will still be caught in a catch-22 because the reason for veterans’ discharge under this policy is reflected in their papers. In other words, they must out themselves to employers, thereby exposing themselves to further potential discrimination based on their sexual orientation or else forego the benefits afforded to military service. It will further argue that unless all veterans discharged under this policy are issued new papers that are neutral as to the reason for discharge, they will suffer ongoing exposure to discriminatory employment practices. The argument will be placed in the context of the historical treatment of homosexuals in the military, including the proposal, passage, and possible repeal of DADT.