U.S. Army Dismisses More Gay Linguists
With 15 recent discharges, the Army continues to dismiss gay and lesbian linguists from the military, bringing the total to 24, with a majority trained in Arabic and Korean.
"Our nation faces a serious shortfall in the number of trained professionals who can speak and decipher the languages critical to our national security," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "The continued firing of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who are trained in those languages underscores the detriment of 'don't ask, don't tell' on our nation."
Cathy Glover, an Arabic linguist, was discharged from duty three weeks ago. In response to the nine linguists discharged last fall, Glover had written a letter to the local Monterey Herald newspaper, in which she revealed her sexual orientation. Soon afterward she was dismissed.
"During this war," she said, "the military is more reluctant to discharge homosexuals then they are in peace time, and this is a double-standard that doesn't make sense -- they say we need you during this war, but as soon as this war is over we're going to discharge you."
Glover has since moved to Washington, DC, and like many other discharged gays and lesbians, she is still seeking to utilize her linguist skills at a nonmilitary government agency.
An editorial in the Washington Post on Wednesday called the practice of discharging gays and lesbians, "self-destructive and unjust."
"The military cannot afford to brand as unfit for service qualified men and women who wish to put their talents -- whether those lie in combat roles or languages -- in the service of their country," it said.
In order to address this continuing concern, SLDN has expanded its ongoing campaign to meet with members of Congress and educate them as to why SLDN feels the policy does not work.
"Specifically in June," said Steve Ralls, SLDN's director of communications, "we are organizing an education day on the Hill to bring constituents from across the country to meet with their elected representatives to encourage them to repeal the policy."
Some senators have recently spoken out against the policy. In particular, Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said from the Senate floor, "Not only does the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy waste time, money and linguistic skill, it also initiates discrimination against those who simply want to serve their country."
No bill or action to repeal the policy, however, has been introduced in Congress.