As expected the House voted yesterday 234-194 to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the news could be a positive first step for many gay and lesbian servicemembers of color who often bare the brunt of the ban. Recent data released by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and reported earlier this week by USA Today shows that DADT disproportionately impacts women and people of color. More than 13,500 service members have been fired under DADT since 1994. Even though people of color make up only 30 percent of the military, 45 percent of troops discharged under DADT in 2008 were of color. It’s no secret that the military recruits heavily from poor communities of color. From USA Today reporter Marisol Bello:
The issue is one of economic opportunity for gay men and lesbians who joined the military to get education benefits or have military careers. "For people of color and women, the military is an opportunity to advance in life," says Evelyn Thomas, a black lesbian discharged from the Marines in 1991. Today, she runs a ministry for gay and lesbian servicemembers near San Diego.
Opponents of DADT think this week’s decision to repeal the ban is an important –albeit symbolic — first step. " ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is like a snapshot of institutional prejudice," former Marine Julianne Sohn told USA Today. Still, nothing’s set in stone. The defense department still has until December 1 to study how to implement its plan to lift the ban.