'Don't ask, don't tell' still tripping up soldiers

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE -- Air Force 1st Lt. Robin Chaurasiya was nervous about telling her story to the News-Democrat.

True, her battle with the U.S. military over its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has been publicized for more than a month, popping up across the Internet and in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Air Force Times.

A lesbian, Chaurasiya came out to her unit commander last summer after a chain of events beyond her control.

Since then, her case has wound up on the desk of Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who is pondering whether to discharge the 375th Air Wing communications officer under the law that bans openly gay service members.

In the process, Chaurasiya, 25, has become a national symbol of the contradictory nature of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the often arbitrary way it is applied, in addition to the sheer human cost of a 17-year-old policy that President Barack Obama, leaders of Congress and Defense Secretary Robert Gates all agree should be repealed.

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