For the third time in three years, Katie Miller ’12 is preparing a college application.
With Tuesday’s release of a Pentagon report on how repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” — a policy that prevents openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces — might affect the military, Miller said she may return to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Miller, who transferred this fall after coming out as a lesbian cadet, said she always intended to return to the military after college if the policy where repealed — but it is unclear when and if the government may move to dismantle the rule.
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Miller said she read all 256 pages of the Pentagon’s report and was not surprised by its conclusions. More than half of active-duty service members polled said they think a repeal would have a “neutral” effect on working relationships within their service units. It also advises that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members not be required to self-report their orientation — a condition gay rights activists support, Miller said.
“It ends the actual debate,” Miller said. “Whatever the opposition throws out there will be anecdotal.”
Miller said she expects Congress to strike down “don’t ask, don’t tell” within the next month, if they do at all. She is working on her application to return to West Point now. The academy will notify her of its decision in May.
If Congress repeals DADT before May, Miller said she may have the opportunity to return.
Theresa Brinkerhoff, media relations chief at West Point, did not comment on the potential impact of “don’t ask, don’t tell” on admissions in an e-mail Thursday. Brinkerhoff said the admissions committee and academic board at West Point will “review all former cadet admissions packets in accordance with current policies and procedures.”
But Eugene Fidell, a senior research scholar and lecturer at Yale Law School, said he does not expect a repeal in the near future.
“We are in an odd moment because we have a lame duck Congress,” Fidell said. “I would hope Congress would mobilize and get this unfinished piece of business done, but I’d be surprised if they do before Congress goes home for good [when the session ends this month].”
Regardless of what may happen to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Miller said she misses the academy — especially the regimen and friends she had there. Miller said she visited the academy several times this fall, despite palpable hostility from some of her ex-classmates.
“It’s pretty much a big sunglasses and a jacket kind of thing,” Miller said.
Miller does not always try to keep a low profile, however: Miller said she was supposed to go to New York City recently to appear on Fox News — the latest in a string of televised interviews — but her “Sex and Gender in Society” professor, Rene Almeling, would not let her reschedule a quiz.
Almeling declined to comment, saying she does not discuss individual students.
Miller said she had been eager to appear on the network, explaining that previous interviewers had been hospitable.
“I feel like Rachel Maddow has coddled me a little and Chris Matthews was tough but kind to me afterward,” Miller said.
Miller also made an appearance at the MTV Music Video Awards this September, where she and three other LGBT ex-service members escorted Lady Gaga while wearing their military dress uniforms. Miller said she received more criticism for appearing there in uniform than she had when she resigned from the academy.
“The military trains us to be detached from emotions,” Miller said, “and it definitely kicked in that entire month.”
In addition to fielding insults from former classmates, Miller said she has had to adjust to an entirely new social and intellectual climate at Yale. While Yalies pursue personal hobbies and passions outside of class, Miller said West Point cadets follow their orders and work themselves to exhaustion.
At Yale, Miller is taking three courses, including George Chauncey’s ’77 GRD ’89 “U.S. Lesbian and Gay History” lecture. Miller also serves on the board of OutServe, a network of underground LGBT active servicemembers.
Still, Miller said, she has pursued other interests besides gay activism at Yale. This fall, she switched majors from sociology to political science and joined the women’s rugby team, which she said is a supportive community.
Mariana Arjona-Soberon ’13, Miller’s teammate and friend, said that since rugby is a contact sport, “you need to know that people have your back.”
Teammate Sophia “Yoshi” Shapiro ’11 said it has been interesting to watch Miller adapt to life at Yale and express herself more freely.
“I think I speak for everyone on the rugby team and Yale when I say I hope she stays,” Shapiro said.
Miller ranked ninth out of 1,157 cadets at West Point when she left this year, and earned a 3.829 grade point average.
Baobao Zhang contributed reporting.