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Gay sailor discharged under DADT is back on active duty

When there aren’t enough warm bodies to serve in Dear Leader’s Big Military Adventure, all bets are off, huh?

Jason Knight had the title of Petty Officer 3rd Class when he came out of the closet and was kicked out of the Navy under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Somehow, he was called back and is now serving — with a promotion to petty officer second class. (Stars and Stripes):

“I thought it was a joke at first,” he said, remembering the day he received his recall orders. “It was the ultimate kick in the ass. But then I thought, there isn’t much they can do to me they haven’t done the first time.”

It was comments by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that spurred Knight to come out publicly a second time. In defending the military’s policy, Pace called homosexual acts immoral and contrary to military values.

“Though I respect [Pace] as a leader, it made me so mad,” Knight said.

“I spent four years in the Navy, buried fallen servicemembers as part of the Ceremonial Guard, served as a Hebrew Linguist in Navy Intelligence, and received awards for exemplary service,” he wrote in a letter to Stripes. “However, because I was gay, the Navy discharged me and recouped my 13k sign-on bonus. Nine months later, the Navy recalled me to active duty. Did I accept despite everything that happened? Of course I did, and I would do it again. Because I love the Navy and I love my country. And despite Pace’s opinion, my shipmates support me.”

And, as we’ve seen before, his supervisors not only have no problem with Knight’s sexual orientation, they praise his work.

“He’s better than the average sailor at his job,” said Bill Driver, the leading petty officer of Knight’s 15-person customs crew in Kuwait. “It’s not at all a strange situation. As open as he is now, it was under wraps for quite a while. It wasn’t an issue at work.”

“I’ve obviously never heard of something like this happening before,” [Petty Officer 1st Class Tisha Hanson] said of Knight’s return to active duty. “But it doesn’t bother me. The Navy tends to keep people who don’t want to be here, but Jason does.”

Someone needs to ask Peter Pace a few questions, such as what happened in this case and does he have a problem with it? Is homosexuality no longer immoral? Are homos no longer an “intolerable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline?”

This will be an interesting story to tell at hearings for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

Hat tip to Jim Burroway, at Box Turtle Bulletin and Noonie Fortin<

***

And on the flip side, to show you what a difference it makes when you have leadership that is more concerned with gay-baiting than running their ship and defending the country, Stars and Stripes also covers homobigotry aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.

It’s after the flip.Two Navy sailors, Seamen Burnell Wright and Shaniqua Washington, who are married but are bisexual, were harrassed and forced to out themselves. They faced “Dyke bitches gonna get stitches” on the bathroom wall, and eventually faced discharge.

They reported the bathroom incident and the graffiti was washed away immediately. But the culprits were never caught, the women said. Then Washington found a DVD of lesbian pornography on her rack.

They began to worry that too many people “knew,” they said. They didn’t get in trouble for homosexual conduct and none of their Navy leaders asked them about it, but they were liberty buddies in every foreign port. They earned their surface warfare pins and took college classes together.

The interesting section of the article is a revealing take on how the military isn’t even hiding that in many cases they are doing everything they can to prevent gays from “getting out” of military service by coming out and being charged under DADT. Of course they simply miss the point that these proud men and women are simply tired of living a lie and serving in silence.

With military contracts so difficult to break, and servicemembers fully aware of the “Don’t Ask” potential for use as a loophole, “you have to look at all of these who `tell’ with some skepticism,” Moskos said.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also have added incentive for some who might try to use “Don’t Ask” as a way to get out of the service and into the lucrative civilian contracting world, after taxpayers have paid for their expensive military training, Moskos said.

But the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – an advocacy group for non-heterosexual servicemembers – has a different take on self “outing.”

“I can definitely say that we have seen many instances over the years of clients deciding to `come out’ because they felt it was their only option in escaping harassment or a profoundly homophobic work environment,” said Kathi Westcott, the group’s deputy director for law. “In reality, holding people accountable to harassment is fairly rare.”

SLDN has more on its The Frontlines blog:  The Writing on the Wall.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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