On a dark, winter morning, I still remember the cold air that swept over me as I waited in a line to enter the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Amarillo, Texas. The day was full of physical screenings and a plethora of tests to determine my physical fitness and aptitude to match me with my future military job. The day symbolized something much bigger; it was the day I was sworn in to the United States Air Force, making the commitment to support and defend all people in the United States. However, the fond memory quickly diminished when I was handed an anti-homosexual agreement that I was required to sign confirming my heterosexuality. If I committed any acts or engage in homosexuality, I agreed that I would be dismissed from military service and charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I am not sure if the processing agent saw the petrified look on my face or my shaky hands, but I signed the agreement and internally negotiated that I would forego a life of authenticity by living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) ban.
During my first year of service, I became a victim of an unfortunate incident and pursued military charges against my assailant. Despite my excellent military standing, during the investigation of the incident, it was uncovered that I was a lesbian. During what was supposed to be the trial of my assailant, I was questioned on my sexual orientation and was forced to consult an attorney out of fear of being discharged from the military simply because I had feelings for someone of the same gender. Fortunately, the ban was repealed shortly thereafter leaving my military career intact, but the pain of being alienated and criminalized still lingers.
I, like many LGBT servicemembers who served during DADT, understand firsthand how discriminatory policies are harmful and alienate individuals. Because of this, I am committed to advocating for diversity and inclusion in the military. The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) is committed to working toward progress and equality for LGBT servicemembers, veterans and their families, and I have taken on the role of Diversity and Inclusion Analyst to join in this mission.
As AMPA’s new Diversity & Inclusion Policy Analyst, it is my fundamental goal to strive toward equality for LGBT issues in the military community. I’m committed to providing AMPA members with informational resources and support in order to meet the needs of all military families.
During my tenure with AMPA, my main initiative is to ensure that we support and advocate for the “T” in the LGBT military community. As the Department of Defense moves to lift the transgender service ban and many military and veterans organizations join in the commitment to serve the transgender community, it is vital that we provide the best resources and advocacy to our transgender servicemembers, veterans, and family members.
AMPA’s commitment is to remain inclusive in all we do. Whether you are a servicemember, veteran, spouse, child, or parent of a transgender child, AMPA will be here to support you in your journey so you can live safely, authentically, and are free from discrimination.
I am excited and honored to join the AMPA team, comprised of dedicated change makers who have committed to remaining on the right side of history.
Jennifer Dane is a veteran of the United States Air Force having served as an Intelligence Analyst focusing on geopolitical, terrorism, and threat vulnerability issues in Latin America and the Middle East. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Bethel University and her Master of Art’s degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University. Jennifer is currently studying in the Doctor of Philosophy program in Education Policy at Ohio State University.
Jennifer has dedicated herself to volunteering in her community in a number of roles in an effort to advocate for social justice and advance the causes of underrepresented groups. She served as the 2015 Pride Committee Chair at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, and is also a member of the International Leadership Association working with colleagues across the country to showcase LGBT issues related to leadership.
Jennifer and her partner, Corey, live together in Dayton, Ohio, where Corey serves as a faculty member at Wright State University in Leadership Studies. They also have a home in Tucson, Arizona where they live part-time with their two cats and Corey’s daughter. To contact Jennifer directly, email her at email@example.com.