.يولد جميع الناس أحرارا متساوين في الكرامة والحقوق. وقد وهبوا عقلا وضميرا وعليهم أن يعامل بعضهم بعضا بروح الإخاء‎
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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Recalled sailor to be fired again

A sailor who was fired under "don't ask, don't tell," then recalled to active duty in an apparent bureaucratic snafu has been summarily discharged again after telling his story in the Stars & Stripes newspaper.

Petty Officer Second Class Jason Knight learned Thursday that the Navy intends to discharge him just weeks before completing his most recent one-year commitment, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a written statement.

Knight, a Hebrew linguist with four years' service, came out to his command in 2005 and was discharged soon after, losing his $13,000 sign-on bonus. He was pleasantly surprised to be recalled in June, and completed a tour of duty with Naval Customs Battalion Romeo in Kuwait.

Once again, he was entirely open about his sexual orientation; his interview with Stars & Stripes was published May 6.

"Jason Knight was an exemplary sailor who gladly returned to active duty when our country needed him," Sharra E. Greer, SLDN's director of law and policy, said in Friday's statement.

"Our nation should be embarrassed that our armed forces are forced to respond to Knight's selfless service with a government-sanctioned pink slip," Greer said.

Knight told Stars & Stripes that he was impelled to go public again by the homophobic comments of Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who called homosexuality "immoral" and refused to apologize despite pressure from members of Congress and several presidential candidates. He sent a letter to the editor, which led to the interview and its consequences.

"Though I respect (Pace) as a leader, it made me so mad," Knight told the paper.

America's changing attitude on "don't ask" "includes suggestions that the Pentagon is less interested in kicking out gay service members during war," wrote Stars and Stripes reporter Joseph Giordono.

"Pentagon stats show that discharges of gay service members dropped to 612 in 2006. The peak of such discharges was in 2001, when 1,273 were reported.

"The numbers have fallen steadily each year, from 906 in 2002 to 787 in 2003, and on down."

Knight receives honorable discharges in both cases -- commanding officers have discretion in such matters. Sailors in his detail praised him highly.

"The Navy tends to keep people who don't want to be here, but Jason does," Petty Officer First Class Tisha Hanson told the paper, adding that his gayness "doesn't bother me."

Refusing to be called back up, even as a test case for gay rights, was not an option, Knight told lesbian blogger Pam Spaulding.

"It is one thing for conservative bigots to kick gays out, but if we refused to serve they would have a nervous breakdown," he said. "I did consider it.

"But I love the Navy and the military; it's just unfortunately under bad policy. I want to defend my nation, as every American has the right to. So I went willingly and out of the closet." (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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