Navy Recalls Gay Sailor

by Kevin Jon Heller

ABC News is reporting that the U.S. Navy recently recalled an openly gay sailor to active duty:

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight says the U.S. Navy knew he was gay, discharged him after he admitted his sexuality, and then recalled him last year to serve in the Middle East.

The Navy disputes that Knight was ever officially known by the Pentagon to be openly gay, so there was nothing odd about his being recalled last summer. But Knight, 23, calls this “a joke.”

He filled out all the proper paperwork, he says. He suspects the Navy knew of his sexuality but “had a spot to fill, and for whatever reason, I didn’t have the re-enlistment code that would prevent me from filling to spot.”

[snip]

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis, says, “There is nothing in his [Knight's] service record to indicated he was discharged for violation of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It was a normal routine discharge that occurred when his enlistment was up.”

Knight says that he informed the military of his sexual orientation after having his July 2004 marriage to a woman annulled, and he was filling out Pentagon paperwork to have that annulment recorded.

He says that he filled out the proper paperwork under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protocols.

A Navy legalman was filling out the forms for the Navy, he recalls. But Knight says, ultimately, his superior officers decided that since he was nearing his four-year anniversary in April 2005 and was eligible for a normal discharge, they would opt for that exit.

“They didn’t want to drag it out,” Knight says. So he did not receive what is referred to as a “homosexual separation,” but rather a regular DD214 — “a regular discharge.”

The Navy, however, hadn’t quite washed its hands of the matter.

In April 2005, Knight says he received a letter from the Navy saying that it wanted Knight to return to them the $13,000 signing bonus he’d been paid after enlisting in April 2001.

Then, even after the Navy recalled him from the individual active reserve, Knight — who received a promotion during his service in a customs battalion in Kuwait — says the military withheld $350 from his monthly pay to repay that bonus.

Because of the paperwork he filled out and the wages that were withheld, Knight does not believe that the Navy didn’t know he was gay.

As the article notes, Knight’s recall does not necessarily indicate that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is losing favor. We can only hope that it is, though, given that the Iraq misadventure has stretched the military nearly to the breaking point. How many times will we have to watch the military discard able soldiers — including, notoriously, a good percentage of its Arabic linguists — before we realize that protecting the U.S.’s ability to respond to foreign threats is more important than indulging the right-wing’s paranoid homophobia?

http://opiniojuris.org/2007/05/08/navy-recalls-gay-sailor/

2 Responses

  1. Hear! Hear!

  2. In my opinion, the admission of (presumably straight) women into the armed forces greatly weakens the only real argument against homosexual participation: i.e. that soldiers should not be romantically involved with each other.

    I don’t imagine the policy will last too much longer. A decade perhaps, given military inertia.

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