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NYT: Gays Discharged Under DADT Seek to Re-Enlist But Dishonorably Discharged Need Not Apply

NYT: Gays Discharged Under DADT Seek to Re-Enlist But Dishonorably Discharged Need Not Apply

by Karen Ocamb on September 5, 2011

The New York Times has a good story out Monday morning, Sept. 5, about how some of the more than 13,000 LGBT servicemembers discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell want to re-enlist but face many obstacles. One of the biggest, The Times points out, is that the military is downsizing and may not have room.

Another is the issue of the discharge itself – if it was less than honorable, they need not apply. But under the original ban on gays serving openly – just being gay was dishonorable. That was essentially codified in 1993 under DADT when saying you were gay was sufficient to prove that you would most likely engage in illegal sexual behavior, ie sodomy. The military cared not a whit that the US Supreme Court overturned laws against sodomy as unconstitutional.

Log Cabin Republican lawyer Dan Woods made the point during oral arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Sept. 1 – that declaring LCR’s DADT lawsuit moot because of the repeal of the law on Sept. 20 still left many gays with a permanent mark on their record. When District Court Judge Virginia Phillips declared the DADT law unconstitutional, that included the original ban upon which the law was based. But if the 9th Circuit agrees with the Justice Department’s argument that DADT is constitutional and declares the law moot and nullifies Phillips’ decision – those originally dishonorably discharged gays will be left out in the cold with their only recourse being a costly individual lawsuit to clear their name.

Here’s an excerpt of The Times story:

They lived shadow lives in the military, afraid that disclosure of their sexuality would ruin carefully plotted careers. Many were deeply humiliated by drawn-out investigations and unceremonious discharges.

Yet despite their bitter partings with the armed forces, many gay men and lesbians who were discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy say they want to rejoin the service, drawn by a life they miss or stable pay and benefits they could not find in civilian life…..

Though the Pentagon says it will welcome their applications, former service members discharged for homosexuality will not be granted special treatment. They will have to pass physical fitness tests and prove that they have skills the armed services need right now. Some will have aged to the point that they will need waivers to get back in.

Even if they pass those hurdles, there is no guarantee that they will go back to their former jobs or ranks. And because the armed services are beginning to shrink, some will be rejected because there are no available slots.

People discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” who wish to return to service “will be evaluated according to the same criteria and requirements applicable to all others seeking re-entry into the military,” said Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “The services will continue to base accessions of prior-service members on the needs of the service and the skills and qualifications of the applicants.”

To be eligible for re-enlistment, former service members cannot have been discharged under “other than honorable conditions,” Ms. Lainez said. The majority of people released under the policy since 1993 — a significant number of them highly trained intelligence analysts and linguists — received honorable discharges. [Emphasis mine]




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael@LeonardMatlovich.com September 5, 2011 at 6:52 PM

There is an important issue related to less than honorable discharge that affects everyone receiving such characterizations, not just those who which to reenlist, and that is access to Veterans Administration medical care. While, officially, the standard of giving every gay or lesbian discharged an Honorable characterization in the absence of any extenuating circumstances such as relations with a subordinate precedes DADT by more than a decade, dating to an order on January 16, 1981, by Carter Administration Deputy Secretary of Defense W. Graham
Claytor, Jr., the abuse continued to a degree, and was probably highest during the homohating Reagan administration. During his 8 years, there were nearly as many discharged—at least 13,236—as in the entire 14 years of DADT—and his DoD often fought for the lowest, disqualifying characterizations for those needing VA medical benefits the most—service members with AIDS.However, a GAO study of fiscal year 1994 through fiscal year 2003 found that only about 5 percent, or 287 gay service members, had received “under other than honorable
conditions” characterizations. There are various appeal processes, but even if the service member is aware of them, they can be long and unsuccessful. As I’m sure you know, members of Congress have asked the Pentagon to create some way of expediting them in light of repeal.
Finally, how does the NYT know that, “A former major, Mr. Almy, … was among the highest-ranking members removed under the ban”? As his efforts to build a Greatest Martyr statue to himself become more borish with each passing day, we suspect that’s nothing more than their repeating his claim without fact checking. While a breakdown by specific officer rank may exist somewhere, I’ve never seen anything but total numbers/percentages of enlisted versus officers generally, and one doubts Mr. Almy has either. The GAO’s January 20111 report, “Personnel and Cost Data Associated with Implementing DOD’s Homosexual Conduct Policy,” which logically would have been concerned about any available data on differing ranks as the higher the rank the higher the salary, only reported that, between fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2009, 98% of discharges, or 3,599, were enlisted, and 2%, or 65, were officers. 
In general, we only know about those whose cases have become public for some reason such as Grethe Cammermeyer and Loren Loomis—both of whom had higher ranks than he.     


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