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CHOCO
Nov 15th, 2002, 04:27 PM
http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/pictures/2002/11/15/mn_linguistics1.jpg
Army linguists Alastair Gamble, left, and Robert Hicks, at their home in Beltsville, Md. Gamble says his discharge from the Army is not a gay-rights issue. Associated Press photo by Marie P. Marzi


Army discharges 6 gay foreign language students
Monterey institute follows Pentagon policy despite shortage of speakers of Arabic

Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer Friday, November 15, 2002

The Army has discharged six gay Arabic linguists studying at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, even as the military is clamoring to fill a critical shortage of fluent speakers of Middle Eastern languages.

The soldiers were dismissed after they disclosed their homosexuality, a violation of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that says gay or lesbian soldiers may serve as long as they keep their sexual orientation private.

But the Washington, D.C.-based Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gays in the military, hopes that by bringing attention to the discharges, the military will reconsider its policy.

"The most pertinent issue is that (six) linguists trained in the language the U.S. government, the military and intelligence all readily admit they are in dire need of have been fired unjustly," Ralls said. "The military shot themselves in the foot."

The group represented all six soldiers, who received honorable discharges. Ralls said the soldiers were not going to challenge the discharges.

The group also represented a seventh Arabic language specialist who was trained at the institute but fired at a different base, and two Korean linguists at Monterey who were also discharged. The group learned Wednesday that a Mandarin linguist had been discharged.

"The shortage of Arabic speakers in the intelligence community is well established," said Donald Hamilton, who was a senior adviser to the National Commission on Terrorism in 2000, which identified a very serious shortage of Arabic language speakers. "The loss of talent is a cost of it (don't ask, don't tell)."

Defense Language Institute spokesman Harvey Perritt said all the Army had done was carry out the Department of Defense policy, which clearly states soldiers who declare they are gay must be discharged.

Perritt declined to go into details of the soldiers' cases, citing their right to privacy. He said that in the fiscal year that ended in September 365 soldiers had completed language training at the institute out of 516 enrolled.

SLDN reported in March that the military had discharged 1,271 men and women under "don't ask, don't tell" last year.

One of the fired soldiers, PFC Patricia Ramirez, 21 of Phoenix, claimed she had been asked by a supervisor to continue to serve after telling a supervisor she was lesbian, claiming her statement wasn't credible, then later told she was being discharged.

"Joining the Army was something I always wanted to do, to serve my country, " Ramirez said. "I thought it was so noble."

She said she had realized she couldn't do that without being honest about her sexual orientation.

"It was a pivotal point in our relationship to make a choice the military was not going to make, to acknowledge us and our relation," she said.

As a result of her dismissal, Ramirez lost many of her benefits, including a bonus to repay her student loans and her Montgomery GI bill, and she was forced to disclose her homosexuality to her family.

Linguist Specialist Alastair Gamble, 24 of Beltsville, Md., said he had been fired from the institute after his superiors learned his boyfriend was spending the night in his bedroom, a violation of curfew. An investigation ensued, which turned up love notes between the two, and the Army began the discharge process.

"This is not a gay rights issue," said Gamble, who had hoped to focus on the Iraqi dialect as a Army career and now is working in the private sector. "What is inappropriate is for the military to insist the policy is right when there is no tangible evidence to support that. Society has progressed. Even people in the military are not sufficiently affected by serving next to openly gay personnel."

Scotso
Nov 15th, 2002, 04:44 PM
Not a gay rights issue? Uhm hello?

It is a major gay rights issue, I would have discharged this guy for being a dumbass. Just because you're gay doesn't mean you should be able to be fired. That's blatent discrimination.

Helen Lawson
Nov 15th, 2002, 05:19 PM
I was at first outraged, though not surprised. Then I read it a second time and read another article on yahoo. Whether or not you agree with "don't ask, don't tell" they basically got caught screwing/spending the night together in the barracks. Someone walked in on them, so to speak, during a bed check. That is not responsible if you ask me.

iluvtrent
Nov 15th, 2002, 05:39 PM
Seems like a great way to get out of the military

lmoon1
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:18 PM
I think that it is clear that you are not supposed to tell about your sexuality. It is a good idea to cause less controversy and create less enemies for right now. I think it is kinda sad, but clearly had they just not told the world, nothing would have happened.

G-Ha
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:35 PM
I do think Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is lame, and not really much different than the "don't tell" policy the military had all along. However, those enlisted are well aware of that policy, and they chose to violate it. This result shouldn't really be a surprise.

Bringing these latest discharges to the media does, however, highlight the absurdity of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The military is obviously more concerned with one's sexuality, than one's ability to speak an Iraqi dialect. Given the dearth of Arabic speakers and an immenent war with Iraq, the military's focus seems misplaced to say the least.

CC
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:44 PM
There would be a double standard if they (foreign lang students)were not discharged. Others who are less "essential" and are dismissed would protest.

G-Ha
Nov 15th, 2002, 06:51 PM
Oh, I agree...language students shouldn't be treated any differently. They violated the current policy and should have been discharged just like anyone else. My point is that the policy is bad, and the military's focus should not be on one's sexuality. How does one's sexuality affect the ability to be a soldier or speak a foreign language?

Scotso
Nov 15th, 2002, 08:25 PM
The real issue is if they were straight foreign language students they wouldn't have been discharged.

Therefore, it's descrimination.

Helen Lawson
Nov 15th, 2002, 08:32 PM
I think if they caught a man and woman cadets in bed or spending the night together after curfew in the barracks, they would have been discharged. That is serious, for the military. This was not a case of off-base private housing. They were doing it under the military's roof, literally. I do not want to offend anyone, but in a way at least that one story feeds the silly stereotype that gay men are sex crazed and will engage in sex on the job when in training and all. Maybe I got the story wrong, but they were doing bed checks. Would you shack up with a guy (or woman) in bed when they had bed checks?

CHOCO
Nov 15th, 2002, 10:02 PM
Military has been and always will be separate from civilian life. It has it own rules and laws that govern its soldiers. So I'm not surprise by this.

CHOCO
Nov 16th, 2002, 03:31 AM
I wonder if the policy is the same for the other branches of the military (Air Force, Navy, and Marines).

DutchieGirl
Nov 16th, 2002, 03:36 AM
Originally posted by lmoon1
I think that it is clear that you are not supposed to tell about your sexuality. It is a good idea to cause less controversy and create less enemies for right now. I think it is kinda sad, but clearly had they just not told the world, nothing would have happened.

So now gays or lesbians should not be allowed to identify as such? WHy should they always have to lie about their partners or life just to please some stupid "outdated" rule? Straight people can talk about their partners, so why shouldn't gays/lesbians be allowed to as well? That's called discrimination!

DutchieGirl
Nov 16th, 2002, 03:39 AM
Originally posted by Helen Lawson
I think if they caught a man and woman cadets in bed or spending the night together after curfew in the barracks, they would have been discharged. That is serious, for the military. This was not a case of off-base private housing. They were doing it under the military's roof, literally. I do not want to offend anyone, but in a way at least that one story feeds the silly stereotype that gay men are sex crazed and will engage in sex on the job when in training and all. Maybe I got the story wrong, but they were doing bed checks. Would you shack up with a guy (or woman) in bed when they had bed checks?

and what about the lesbian lady "Ramirez" who was discharged... in the article it didn't say she was caught with another female in her bed... she was discharged coz she told someone about being gay... THAT is dizscrimination.

Granted, the guy who got caught with someone in his bed should have been discharged... and I'm sure if a straight person had been caught the same thing would have happened.

Picol
Nov 16th, 2002, 03:54 AM
I would bet that if a man and woman got caught it would not even be reported. Even though you can be discharged for that, if it is not reported, then you will not be discharged. I believe it was reported because they are 2 males. I certainly am embarrassed to be straight at times when we treat members of a different sexual family this way. About time the world took a live and let live policy, we will be better people for it.

CHOCO
Nov 16th, 2002, 04:19 AM
I agree with the policy in the military because of the culture. In civilian life, it's much easier to assert one's sexuality from police officer to politician. The military is a different bird. I doubt if ever the military would permit gays and lesbians to assert their sexuality.

DutchieGirl
Nov 16th, 2002, 04:21 AM
then I hate the military! :D

Picol
Nov 16th, 2002, 04:27 AM
Originally posted by CHOCO
I agree with the policy in the military because of the culture. In civilian life, it's much easier to assert one's sexuality from police officer to politician. The military is a different bird. I doubt if ever the military would permit gays and lesbians to assert their sexuality.

Then it is qualified and legalised racism.

treufreund
Nov 16th, 2002, 04:54 AM
It works very openly in Israel and the Netherlands and Germany but can't in the USA? It's the same argument CHOCO that was used to say that blacks and whites would not be able to fraternize and that it would lead to instability and low morale. With education people can learn to respect each other.

CHOCO
Nov 16th, 2002, 05:32 AM
picol - it's not racism. if anything, is discrimination against OPENLY gays and lesbians. Because gays and straights already fraternize with one another. It's just not out in the open.

IMO, I think it's best that if you are gay and in the military, just do your thing, achieve whatever you want, take advantages of all the benefits you so desire and then leave when you are ready.

I just can't see gays and lesbians asserting their sexuality in the US military RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, it would kill soldier morale. Maybe 50 yrs from now. It is so much easier to do so in civilian life and less hassle.

Picol
Nov 16th, 2002, 05:43 AM
I am sorry Choco but what you are asking is a part of society to hide themselves from another part. Now I am a White woman, but say I was a Black Women in the the U.S. Army, would you ask me to keep my ethinticity to myself so as not to upset the white majority?. I do not think so. Neither should a gay man or woman hide themselves because it may upset me. it is not acceptable in these days to judge other people for things you may not understand.

CHOCO
Nov 16th, 2002, 05:51 AM
picol, in principle, I agree with you 100 percent. But the reality of the US military is another thing. As I stated, gays and straight already work, march, fight, and eat together. It's just not in the open.

Picol
Nov 16th, 2002, 05:57 AM
Then if we agree in principle, then all else is twaddle :D (That is a compliment by the way)

CHOCO
Nov 16th, 2002, 12:13 PM
:)

Mercury Rising
Nov 16th, 2002, 12:47 PM
Originally posted by CHOCO
picol, in principle, I agree with you 100 percent. But the reality of the US military is another thing. As I stated, gays and straight already work, march, fight, and eat together. It's just not in the open.
So you agree with this??????

UNBELIEVABLE, the more I read about the US and its "policies" the more I'm convinced that it is everything but a democratic country. How can you have laws like this?

Messenger
Nov 16th, 2002, 01:49 PM
I understand that they are worried about it lowering morale etc. Fine.

So does it mean that gay people have a duty to not tell anyone as well as make sure no one could possibly think they're gay? Because if they don't say something, but other people begin to get suspicious - can they discharge you for that? I doubt they can because they don't have proof. But if they don't discharge you, then it would still be "lowering morale" because people think you're gay.

I can imagine that since everyone eats and sleeps together for long periods of time that not all gay people would remain unsuspected. But of course they can't ask...

Irish
Nov 16th, 2002, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by CHOCO
I wonder if the policy is the same for the other branches of the military (Air Force, Navy, and Marines).
All the branches of the military were given the same policy by Clinton. So yes, these also and to include the Coast Guard, the Reserves and the Guard.

CHOCO
Nov 16th, 2002, 04:46 PM
I wish former military soldiers could add their perspective to this issue.