Lesbian West Point cadet quit but wants to return
FINDLAY, Ohio - Katherine Miller got pretty good at hiding her sexuality in high school, brushing off questions about her weekend plans and referring to her girlfriend, Kristin, as "Kris." She figured she could pull it off at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, too. After all, "don't ask, don't tell" sounded a lot like how she had gotten through her teen years.
But something changed when she arrived at West Point two years ago. She felt the sting of guilt with every lie that violated the academy's honor code. Then, near the end of her first year, she found herself in a classroom discussion about gays in the military, listening to friends say gays disgusted them.
"I couldn't work up the courage to foster an argument against what they were saying for fear of being targeted as a gay myself," Miller told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "I had to be silent. That's not what I wanted to become."
What she has become is an unlikely activist for repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military. She resigned from the academy in August and within days was one of the most prominent faces of the debate. Yet her greatest hope now is that she can return to the place she just left.
For that to happen, President Barack Obama must make good on his promise to gay rights groups that he would push to repeal the 1993 law by the end of the year. The U.S. House already has signed off on the idea, and the Senate is preparing to debate it in the coming weeks.
The Defense Department on Tuesday will release a report that will help shape what Congress decides. The study has examined whether lifting the ban can be done without disrupting the armed services and current war efforts and includes a survey of about 400,000 troops.
Miller, 21, grew up in rural Ohio, where she was captain of her high school softball team and voted most likely to become president. She started dreaming of going to West Point around the time she turned 16 - more than a year before she came to accept that she was gay.
What hurt the most after her resignation were negative comments from people in her hometown. Some were hateful. Some accused her of wasting the military's time and money. Some called her selfish for taking a spot in the academy from someone else.
Miller is now preparing her application to the academy in case Congress acts quickly on "don't ask, don't tell."
For now, Miller is attending Yale University and taking classes, including lesbian and gay history and sexual gender in society - courses not found at the academy.