Since ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was adopted, over 11,000 servicemembers have been discharged as suspected or actual LGBT people. That number includes a number of gay Arabic language experts, the kind of experts that could be valuable in the search for terrorists. As AmericaBlog put it last week, “to the Republicans running our government, finding gays is more important than finding Osama.”

The most recent discharge of a gay Arabic-speaking servicemember seems to have violated the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy:

Anonymous messages about the sergeant’s private life had led to an eight-month investigation. Among other things, he was asked whether he knew any homosexuals – who doesn’t? – and whether he was involved in community theater – which the Army apparently considers a sure-fire sign of deviance, despite the fact that armies of straight guys have joined such groups in search of comely female companionship.

While military service might not be the first choice for many LGBT people, it has important advantages to people who might not have the choice to seek higher education. Or for folks who simply want to serve their country. But when other countries have LGBT people serving openly with success, why doesn’t the United States?

“It’s like what Churchill said about democracy – it’s the worst system possible, except for all the other ones,” said Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University who helped craft the policy and coined the phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But, Moskos said, allowing openly gay service members would hurt the morale of the military rank-and-file and make many recruits uncomfortable.

Our soldiers are comfortable enough to shoot and kill enemy combatants, endure rigorous physical tests during basic training or witness the grotesque scenes of war, but simply can’t stomach having an openly gay or lesbian person serving alongside them? Please, please shut it, Mr. Moskos. That’s bullshit.

What can we do locally to protest DADT and bring an end to the discharges of LGBT troops or enable openly LGBT people to sign up for service? Soulforce’s Jake Reitan invites folks to participate in this event on Wednesday:

“In May, Haven Herrin, Ezekiel Montgomery, Briget Schwarting, and Jacob Reitan tried to sign up for the Minnesota National Guard as openly gay people. After going through the appeal process they were each denied the Right to Serve. On Wednesday August 16th young adults from across Minnesota are going to return to the National Guard recruitment center that denied them to begin a sit-in. I want you to sit-in with us. Help us send a message that openly gay people deserve the right to serve.

You can register for the sit-in here.

Together, we can point out to the people of Minnesota the absurdity of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

11:00am – 5:00pm

Minnesota National Guard Recruitment Center

211 N. McCarron Blvd

St. Paul, MN

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