Suppose you are a high ranking military personell. You are highly decorated and well-respected throughout your branch. You’ve achieved a security clearance to let you in on some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets – secrets, which if revealed, could result in the fall of the United States itself. Only a handful of people know these secrets, you and five other people. Let’s call them Susan, Tom, James, Jane, and Martin.
You, and the other 5 have all gone out drinking. As the night wears on, you all get drunk, and find someone to…get to know. Those who wish to do harm to the Americans are watching the lot of you. They see all of you sleep with someone. They are all married, except for you, and the one they sleep with isn’t their spouses.
One by one, operatives who wish to blackmail you guys come and make an offer. Either reveal the secrets you know, or we will tell the world that you’ve slept with someone. Down the line, they all weigh their options. They all could have their homes wrecked if their spouses found they. The spouses would be crushed, and just might leave. Then again, maybe they will understand it was just a moment of weakness. They all decide that the worst outcome pale in comparison to what could befall them if they give up the secrets. Some end up getting a divorce, some end up making up with their spouse.
Now, they come to you. They can’t black mail you with cheating, since you’re not married. However, they one you slept with, was a member of the same sex. Now what? You didn’t do anything they didn’t do, you just did it with someone different. However, instead of the possiblity of a divorce, you face losing your career. There is no “maybe we can make things up”. You know for a certain, that you WILL lose your career. You will be discharged. Not for sharing secrets, but because you slept with someone of the same gender.
While it will be your own private hell, you decide to come out. You get discharged. You do nothing the others didn’t do, but you lose so much more for standing up to black mail – all because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
While this scenario may be a little far fetched, the moral of the story is, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell creates a world where you are looking over your shoulder. You can’t be yourself. While others can find their soul mate and talk about them openly, you cannot. All because of someone you love.