Lesbian Women Discharged From Military More Than Gay Men

The number of military discharges on the basis of sexual orientation have reached the highest levels since 1987, according to a report from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), an independent legal aid group opposed to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy.” The eighth annual report notes that the Department of Defense fired 1,250 men and women for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In addition, 1,075 incidents of anti-gay harassment were reported by the Department of Defense, a 23 percent increase from the previous year.

The report also shows that lesbian women are discharged at a much higher percentage than their male equivalents. Women comprise 14 percent of the total military population, including the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard branches, yet 30 percent of the total discharges based on sexual orientation were women, according to a report on the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Web site. Air Force rates are the highest of all, with women accounting for 43 percent of the 191 servicemembers discharged.

The discharge rates and harassment represent “an affront to liberty, unity, and military readiness,” says SLDN executive director C. Dixon Osburn, who adds that Congress should repeal the controversial “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and alleges that the Pentagon and White House have not done enough to curb anti-gay behavior in the military. The report also claims that the Bush Administration has failed to implement the 2000 Pentagon “Anti-Harassment Action Plan,” adopted by then-Defense Secretary William Cohen, and that this failure has given unspoken approval for the continued harassment of gay, lesbian, or bisexual servicemembers.

“Ultimately, the ban on gays in the military must be lifted, and the United States must join the rest of the industrialized western nations who have abandoned their policies of discrimination,” the SLDN report concludes. “[This policy] undercuts the very liberties and freedoms our military members fight to protect.”
–Maria Opitz
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RELATED:
Conduct Unbecoming: The 8th Annual Report on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
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