Don’t Ask Again, Don’t Tell Again

When Congress and President Clinton reached the ‘don’t ask,
don’t tell’ compromise about gays and lesbians in the military in
1993, folks on both sides of the issue were left unsatisfied. Many
warned that the head-in-the-sand policy would lead to more
problems, but they probably didn’t foresee the strange case of
Jason Knight. As Barbara Wilcox reports for
the Advocate Knight was recalled to
duty after being discharged for violating ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’
only to be discharged again for talking about it with the military
newspaper Stars and Stripes.

When Jason Knight announced to the Navy after four years of
service that he was gay back in 2004, the announcement seemingly
ended his military career, Joseph Giordono reports for
Stars and Stripes. Knight was
discharged and the Navy quickly recouped his $13,000 sign-on
bonus. That should have been the end of it, but nine months
later the Navy recalled him for a one-year tour of duty in
Kuwait. Then, according to the Advocate, just days
after he spoke openly about the strange situation to Stars
and Stripes,
Knight received word that he was to be
discharged again, just weeks shy of the end of his latest
tour.

Some have claimed that Knight’s case points to ‘an unwritten
change in policy to keep more gay servicemembers in the ranks at a
time of war,’ Starts and Stripes‘ Giordono reports.
According to Pentagon statistics, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
discharges have seen a steep decline since the invasion of
Afghanistan in 2001, and have been holding at comparatively low
levels since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Giordono writes that
after reaching a peak of 1,273 discharges in 2001, this past year
boasted the lowest number of discharges in the policy’s 13-year
history: only 612.

With demands to keep troop levels steady in an unpopular war,
politicians and even some military insiders are advocating an
official change in policy to allow openly gay and lesbian soldiers
to serve. Politicians have tried to tiptoe around the issue
publicly, but some presidential candidates, including Sen. Hillary
Clinton (D-NY), according to the
Des Moines Register, have brought
the debate to the fore. ‘Right now, we are discharging soldiers
— at a time when we don’t have enough people to do the missions
we need around the world — because they’re gay,’ Clinton said.
‘Not because they have done anything, but just because they are
gay.’

Go there >>
Gay Sailor Called Back to Active Duty

Go there, too >>
Recalled Sailor to Be Discharged Again

And there >>
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Stirs Emotions

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