Friday, July 28, 2006

Army Dismisses Gay Arabic Linguist

I just don’t understand it. At what point are rational, thinking people going to wake up and realize that the GOP “holy war” against gay people has gone too far? And at what point do rational, thinking people realize that the GOP’s bizarre obsession and downright homophobia threaten this country’s national security? I’d say when things like this happen on a fairly regular basis:

A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified.

Bleu Copas, 30, told The Associated Press he is gay, but said he was "outed" by a stream of anonymous e-mails to his superiors in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C

Never mind that the military has been having trouble meeting recruiting quotas or that right now, the Army has a shortage of Arabic language specialists. These frickin people are (gasp) g-a-y:

More than 11,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy [don’t ask, don’t tell], including 726 last year -- an 11 percent jump from 2004 and the first increase since 2001.

And let’s not forget that many of these people have extremely valuable skills critical to this “war on terror” we are fighting right now. And yet the military feels completely justified in throwing away these invaluable and very limited resources because of their sexual orientation.

And the list of people with stories to tell is long. Major Margaret Witt is another person with a personal story to tell:

In 1993, Maj. Margaret Witt was a poster woman for the Air Force's flight nurse recruiting program. In her career of 18-plus years, the decorated, 42-year-old operating room and flight nurse from McChord Air Force Base earned stellar reviews for her work.

In 2003, President Bush awarded her the Air Medal for her Middle East deployment and, later, the Air Force Commendation Medal, for saving the life of a Defense Department worker.

Less than a year later, following an Air Force investigation, Witt, a reservist, was drummed out. Her offense: a committed relationship, but with another woman, a civilian, from 1997 to 2003.

And adding insult to injury, the Air Force has a shortage of qualified, well-trained flight nurses, but Major Witt’s 19 years of decorated service was just not enough to overcome the crime of being gay.

And let’s not forget how expensive homophobia is to the American taxpayer:

…the GAO also noted that nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California.

Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Could someone who actually agrees with this “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy please explain to me why we should keep this policy in place, because for the life of me, I cannot think of one rational reason other than irrational homophobia. It is getting harder and harder to look at the GOP as anything but a party driven by bigotry and homophobia.

Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report Share

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