Treatment Under DADT

Jesse Ellison tells the story of a gay soldier and cadet who secretly dated under Don't Ask Don't Tell. They were both raped and infected with HIV by a now-imprisoned staff sergeant. Their story is a reminder why DADT repeal was essential:

On July 31, 2007, just six months after meeting, Kevin and Kole were joined in domestic partnership. It was the first day that Washington State was granting the status to same-sex couples, and the two young men were among the first to line up. Since then, they’ve used the same last name: Welsh. By then, with Kole discharged and Kevin still fighting to get basic treatment from the medical command, neither of them were concerned about how their partnership, and Kevin’s name change, might affect their standing in the military.

The union was driven as much by practicality as it was by love, says Kole. Once they were partnered, it made it easier to seek out shared medical care for their HIV status, and seemed to make medical providers feel more comfortable allowing them both in the room when treatments and prognoses were discussed. And navigating the bureaucracy of Veterans Affairs is much easier with the shared surname, Kole says. "The domestic partnership was a necessity so that we’d be able to help each other get medical care … but it laid the groundwork for the relationship we have now."

Two months after their diagnosis, the colonel at the medical center relented, giving in to the demands of Kole, Kevin, and their outside doctor and giving Kevin the early treatment he’d started in Seattle. But even then, Kole had to file a complaint with the base’s director of clinical affairs before he was allowed in the room with Kevin during treatment, having first been told, he says, "we’re the Army. We don’t do domestic partnerships."