Saturday, May 05, 2007

Don't Ask, Do Tell?

Well, it looks like the powers that be in the Pentagon are so desperate for warm bodies that they are recalling people to duty whom they have previously discharged for being gay.

On his wedding night in July 2004, then-Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Knight finally accepted a truth he had fought against for years: he was gay.

Almost immediately, he moved to get his marriage annulled. He apologized to the woman he’d married. And when it came time to explain his changing circumstances to the Navy, he left nothing out. Under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, he was quickly discharged from the service.

But now — whether through a clerical oversight or what some claim is an unwritten change in policy to keep more gay servicemembers in the ranks at a time of war — Jason Knight is back on active duty.

How bad must things be in the military that this is occurring? Under normal circumstances I would applaud the decision the allow any gay member of the services to be allowed to serve, (if they wished), but given the current state of affairs in the military this should be cause for concern. Obviously things have deteriorated to the point where the Pentagon is blatantly violating their own regulations in order to meet manpower needs. There can be little doubt that this, combined with other recent events such as lowering standards for admission into the services is a strong indicator that things are much worse than we might have thought. Things are likely to become much worse.

Mr. Knight likes being in the Navy and hopes he can stay beyond his 365 day recall, but the spectre of a return to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges hangs like the Sword of Damocles over his head. As a now openly gay member of the military he serves at the pleasure of those above him. While we may hope that this does signal a change to a more enlightened and liberty oriented policy, the reality is likely a symbol of the continuing degradation of the US military in Iraq. Hopefully, Mr. Knight will see his dream come true and he will be the first of many openly gay soldiers and sailors who will get to serve out their terms. My most fervent wish is that they get to do so in a new peacetime force, far from the fields of war.

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