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"Don't ask, don't tell" discharges hit new high
The Pentagon's excuse for a witch-hunt

By Nicole Colson | March 29, 2002 | Page 2

SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, George W. Bush has been full of praise for America's "real strength…the people who make the military go." But that praise doesn't seem to extend to the 1,250 men and women discharged last year--for the "crime" of being gay.

That's the largest number of discharges for homosexuality since 1987, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's (SLDN's) annual report published in mid-March.

The SLDN says that antigay threats and assaults reached new highs last year as well--showing the abysmal failure of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays and lesbians.

The policy was put in place in 1994 after Bill Clinton compromised on his campaign promise to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly. In reality, "don't ask, don't tell" led to stepped-up harassment of gays.

People like Brian Moore have paid the price. A Navy sonar technician, Moore went to his superiors after facing continued harassment on board the USS Curtis Wilbur. When he found the word "fag" scrawled across his bed sheets, he took it the way any sane person would--as a threat.

The Navy passed off the incident with a "boys will be boys" attitude. But Moore was discharged for speaking up.

The SLDN says that such incidents are now commonplace. The group's report leaves little doubt that anti-gay bigotry runs right to the top of the military. "The last administration called it 'don't ask, don't tell,' but that is an incorrect way to describe it," read a November 2001 Air Force colonel's call briefing, quoted in the SLDN report. "Basically, homosexuality is like alcoholism, thievery, lying and is not tolerated in the military."

So much for respecting "the people who make the military go."

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