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Old 04-07-2005, 08:41 PM   #1
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wounded, heroic gay soldier too gay to serve

Gay U.S. Soldier Wants to Serve Openly

Apr 7, 8:41 PM (ET)

By MALIA RULON

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq wants a chance to remain in the military as an openly gay soldier, a desire that's bringing him into conflict with the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, says he has not encountered trouble from fellow soldiers and would like to stay if not for the policy that permits gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret.

"I know a ton of gay men that would be more than willing to stay in the Army if they could just be open," Stout said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But if we have to stay here and hide our lives all the time, it's just not worth it."

Stout, of Utica, Ohio, was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May.

He is believed to be the first gay soldier wounded in Iraq to publicly discuss his sexuality, said Aaron Belkin, director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

"We can't keep hiding the fact that there's gay people in the military and they aren't causing any harm," said Stout, who says he is openly gay among most of his 26-member platoon, which is part of the 9th Engineer Battalion based in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Stout, who served in Iraq for more than a year as a combat engineer, said by acknowledging he is gay, he could be jailed and probably will be discharged before his scheduled release date of May 31.

"The old armchair thought that gay people destroy unit camaraderie and cohesion is just wrong," Stout said. "They said the same things when they tried to integrate African-Americans and women into the military."

Before the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, enacted in 1993 under the Clinton administration, the Pentagon had explicitly barred gays from military service. At least 24 countries, including Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Canada and Israel, allow gays to serve openly.

In an e-mail following the AP interview, Stout said he had been ordered not to speak to the media. "I guess they found out somehow that I was talking to the press and now they are having a fit. I will try to get everything straightened out," Stout wrote.

Martha Rudd, a spokeswoman for the Army at the Pentagon, said soldiers who are discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" typically receive honorable discharges, although the timing would be up to the individual's commanding officer. She declined to comment about Stout, saying the Army doesn't comment on specific cases.

The issue of whether gays should be allowed to openly serve in the military has received increased attention in recent months as the Army has struggled to meet its recruiting goals. Twelve gays expelled from the military sued the government in December, citing a Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional state laws against homosexual sex.

The Bush administration has asked a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey has said he opposes changing the policy, although Pentagon figures show a sharp decline in the number of U.S. military members discharged for making it known they are homosexual, falling from 1,227 in 2001 to 653 last year.

A recent congressional study on the impact of "don't ask, don't tell" said that hundreds of highly skilled troops, including many translators, have left the armed forces because of the rule, at a cost of nearly $200 million, mostly for recruiting and training replacements for 9,500 troops discharged between 1994 and 2003.

Gary Gates, a statistician at the University of California at Los Angeles, estimates there are about 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in the military, accounting for about 2.8 percent of all personnel. He estimates that at least 25 gay soldiers have been killed in Iraq.

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a conservative advocacy group that opposes gays serving in the military, said a better way to avoid the cost of replacing soldiers who are discharged for being gay is to make it very clear to people who enlist in the military, including Stout, that they are ineligible to serve if they are gay.

"I honor and respect his service to this country, but the fact that he's wounded really doesn't change the underlying fact. ... He is not eligible to serve," Donnelly said, adding that there are many reasons why people aren't eligible to serve. "This is just one of them."

Stout said he suspected while in high school that he was gay but didn't acknowledge it until later. "Then I noticed that it wasn't a phase or anything. This is me," said Stout, who enlisted in the Army after graduating in 2000.

"The 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, when it first came out, was a good stepping stone, but it's outlived its usefulness," he said. "We've progressed past it both as a military and as a society."

Recent media polls indicate some increased public acceptance for allowing gays to serve openly in the military, with more than six in 10 Americans supporting the idea while about half supported it a decade ago. An Annenberg poll taken last fall among members of the military showed a majority opposed to such service, though half of junior enlisted personnel said gays should be allowed to serve openly.
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Old 04-07-2005, 08:44 PM   #2
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Old 04-07-2005, 09:38 PM   #3
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Re: wounded, heroic gay soldier too gay to serve

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511


"The 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, when it first came out, was a good stepping stone, but it's outlived its usefulness," he said. "We've progressed past it both as a military and as a society."

This is so true. But unfortunately it won't happen under this administration.
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Old 04-08-2005, 05:12 AM   #4
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Re: wounded, heroic gay soldier too gay to serve

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

"I honor and respect his service to this country, but the fact that he's wounded really doesn't change the underlying fact. ... He is not eligible to serve," Donnelly said, adding that there are many reasons why people aren't eligible to serve. "This is just one of them."

Does she even realize how ridiculous that statement sounds?
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Old 04-08-2005, 05:41 AM   #5
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As a military member and a heterosexual, I believe that having an openly gay person in your platoon, unit, etc. would cause some issues. I highly doubt that everyone in his unit is ok with it. There is a reason men and women don't live in the same quarters or shower together out in the deserts of Iraq...gay men are attracted to...MEN. And please don't tell me that somehow they are able to keep there libido in check. I wouldn't like it, and I have gay friends. If thats the case, the the next time I'm deployed, I want to shower with the women!! Okay, bring on the flames....
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Old 04-08-2005, 05:45 AM   #6
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Originally posted by Abomb-baby
And please don't tell me that somehow they are able to keep there libido in check.
Right, because my gay housemate, like, totally jumps all over every man he sees, regardless of whether he knows them, likes them, or knows if they're gay or not.

Uh-huh.

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Old 04-08-2005, 05:52 AM   #7
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And please don't tell me that somehow they are able to keep there libido in check.
Can you? Or are you raping every woman you see?
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Old 04-08-2005, 05:56 AM   #8
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Thats not what I meant PAX. I meant they are ATTRACTED to men. No, I don't think they would jump on every man. But there could be a situation where someone is made to feel uncomfortable. Like I said, same reason men and women don't shower together out in the deserts of Iraq. Don't be so mellow dramatic....
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Old 04-08-2005, 06:00 AM   #9
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I'm not being "mellow dramatic." Rather, I'm simply saying that I'm not sure there's a Constitutionally guaranteed right to never feel uncomfortable, and even if there was, I'm not sure it's a gay soldier's problem that someone else is uncomfortable with homosexuality.

I also really don't like the implication that gay people are somehow more likely than straight people to "inflict" their sexuality on other people. From what I hear about American military life, there's an awful lot of straight soldiers who aren't sitting in their tents every night reading the Bible, if you catch my drift.
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Old 04-08-2005, 06:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by pax

I also really don't like the implication that gay people are somehow more likely than straight people to "inflict" their sexuality on other people.
When did I say this? No, I don't believe gays are more likely to inflict there sexuality on someone. So I guess there is no reason to have any segregation between the sexes in the military at all. So as long as I'm straight I have no right to feel uncomfortable. If I'm gay and can't tell everyone about it, then I have every right to be uncomfortable as hell.
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Old 04-08-2005, 06:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Abomb-baby
Thats not what I meant PAX. I meant they are ATTRACTED to men. No, I don't think they would jump on every man. But there could be a situation where someone is made to feel uncomfortable. Like I said, same reason men and women don't shower together out in the deserts of Iraq. Don't be so mellow dramatic....

i was a swimmer most of my life, and i go to a mostly striaght gym, and i shower with men all the time. do i look? no. that's rude. do i get turned on? no, i control it, and it's not an issue. gay men have been showering with straight men forever, and i guarantee you that you've showered with many gay men in you life and not known it. i don't see why the military should be any different.
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Old 04-08-2005, 07:22 AM   #12
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Irvine what you say is very real, but put yourself in the position of other men who are showering. I wouldn't feel comfortable showering in front of a woman or gay man that I don't know so well.

However...

I think the whole shower issue is a very weak argument to base the entire homophobia of the army on. Want me to solve it? Create some showering schedules.

Now, what other problems do you have with gay men serving?
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Old 04-08-2005, 07:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Irvine what you say is very real, but put yourself in the position of other men who are showering. I wouldn't feel comfortable showering in front of a woman or gay man that I don't know so well.

but that's your problem, not the gay soldier's problem, and not sufficient grounds to bar someone from serving in the military.
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Old 04-08-2005, 07:31 AM   #14
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Hey Irv, read the rest of my first post please.
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Old 04-08-2005, 07:36 AM   #15
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Hey Irv, read the rest of my first post please.

i did ... but i'm not sure what to take seriously ... i thought you were kidding about the shower schedules, but were serious about the first part.

if i misunderstood, i'm sorry.
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