US Navy re-enlists gay sailor
Petty Officer called back to active duty after Don't ask, Don't tell dismissal
May 08, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Navy has called an openly gay sailor back
to active duty after dismissing him under the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't
Tell' ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel. According to Stars
& Stripes newspaper, Petty Officer Jason Knight 'came out' to his command and
was subsequently discharged from the Navy in 2005.
Today, after being recalled to active duty, Knight is finishing a scheduled one-year tour in
Kuwait with Naval Customs Battalion Bravo. Service members discharged under
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' are not allowed to return to the services. The Navy
has declined to comment on the case.
'Petty Officer Knight's story shatters the myth that openly gay troops
undermine unit cohesion or morale,' said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and
policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
'The Pentagon knows full well that lesbians and gays are good service members. If military
leaders believe otherwise, then they need to explain why gay troops are being
called back to active duty and sent to the frontlines. SLDN applauds the Navy
for recognizing Knight's talent and qualification. Now the time has come to
allow every gay service member to serve openly, and to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'.'
According to Stars & Stripes, Knight is now serving openly, and sees no reason
to hide his sexual orientation. 'I spent four years in the Navy, buried
fallen service members 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 the newspaper. 'However, because I was gay, the Navy
discharged me and recouped my $13,000 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 . . . my shipmates support me.'
In fact, many of Knight's colleagues spoke out in support of him. 'He's
better than the average sailor at his job,' Bill Driver, the leading petty
officer of Knight's 15-person customs crew in Kuwait, told the paper. '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.'
'Like Petty Officer Knight, an increasing number of lesbian and gay troops
are being welcomed by their colleagues in the armed forces,' said Greer.
'It is long past time for official policy to reflect the changing attitudes
within the military. Commanders do not want to lose good people to this law
and service members do not care if the men and women they work alongside
happen to be gay. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' serves no useful purpose and should
Petty Officer Knight's current orders call for him to be on active duty until
June. Knight told Stars & Stripes that he wants to complete that service and
is even looking for ways to return to active duty full time, perhaps through
the officers candidate school. – Issued by www.sldn.org
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