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Gays OK when the recruiting runs dry

Isn’t this special? Commanders Ordered Not To Fire Gays Until War’s End. So what ace reporter is going to ask Rummy about this one? Double dare.

Scholars studying military personnel policy have discovered a document halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized. The document was made public Tuesday by Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM), a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was found during research for a story for the ABC news program Nightline.

The regulation was contained in a 1999 “Reserve Component Unit Commander’s Handbook” and is still in effect, according to the Center.

It states that if a discharge for homosexual conduct is requested “prior to the unit’s receipt of alert notification, discharge isn’t authorized. Member will enter AD [active duty] with the unit.”

The document is significant because of longstanding Pentagon denials that the military requires gays to serve during wartime, only to fire them once peacetime returns. According to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, gays and lesbians must be discharged whether or not the country is at war.

Gay soldiers and legal groups have reported for years that known gays are sent into combat, and then discharged when the conflicts end. Discharge statistics corroborate a pattern of rising expulsions during peacetime and plummeting rates during military conflicts, and Pentagon statistics confirm that, as has been the case in every war since World War II, gay discharges have declined during the current conflict in the Middle East.

…Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a Pentagon spokesman said that the military was not modifying its regulations on gay troops. And a May, 2005 study by the Congressional Research Service says that although gay discharges do decline during wartime, the decrease is the result of “random fluctuations in the data,” not an intentional Pentagon policy of retaining gays during wars”.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon acknowledged Tuesday that it would again fail to meet its monthly recruiting goal and for the first time since 1999 would not meet its goal for the year.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding