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August 09, 2005

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Post Gay Personal Ads

In another fine example of our military shooting themselves in the foot, a frontline artillaryman who was serving two tours of duty in Iraq was ousted because of a gay personal ad he posted online. He set up the ad last year between deployments, and did not use or discuss it while on active duty.

Howe, 32, enlisted in the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks,
taking a leave of absence from his job in corporate marketing. He was
already open with family and friends about his sexuality, but his desire
to help his country exceeded his concern about the military's gay ban.

"Going back in the closet was a trade-off I could make briefly," Howe
said in an interview with the PlanetOut Network.

Seeing as how the military is having all kinds of problems recruiting fresh meat and retaining seasoned meat, you'd think they'd want to hold on to all the meat they can get their hands on, even if it's gay meat.

By the end of July, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
had assisted 10 people with similar circumstances, and the cases
represent 25 percent of the "outing" incidents monitored by SLDN this
year. The category refers to cases in which a service member's sexual
orientation is revealed by another individual to a supervisor without
the member's consent.

The individuals affected -- nine men and one woman -- include a Farsi
linguist, a doctor, an intelligence analyst and a communications operator.
At least three served in the Iraq war.

As a taxpayer, who is paying for these fine folks' training, I find it reprehesible that these highly qualified soldiers would be discharged from the military for something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation.

As Dan Savage, who is guest blogging at AndrewSullivan puts it:

Aren’t we having a manpower crisis? Don’t we need all the patriotic
soldiers—gay or not, closeted or not—that we can lay our hands on? (Er,
pardon the expression.) Howe will be fine; he can return to the job he
left in marketing now that he’s been kicked out of the Army. I worry,
however, about a nation that seems to hate its gay citizens so much more
than it values its own security. Pathetic.