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One might think that given the war on terror, America's interests in the Middle East, and the general world scene, that Arab language specialists might be important to the U.S. Army.  And thus, it is with great puzzlement and concern that I note the honorable discharge of 30-year-old Sergeant Bleu Copas of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.

According to the Associated Press, an anonymous e-mail was sent to the 82nd Airborne's All-American Chorus's chorus director, stating that someone in the chorus was gay.  The chorus director's response was to call everyone into the hallway and ask who was gay. Sergeant Copas complained to the platoon sergeant about the questions violating the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The platoon sergeant responded by asking if Sergeant Copas was gay. So much for the "don't ask" part of the policy... [continued below the fold]

One might think that given the war on terror, America's interests in the Middle East, and the general world scene, that Arab language specialists might be important to the U.S. Army.  And thus, it is with great puzzlement and concern that I note the honorable discharge of 30-year-old Sergeant Bleu Copas of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.

According to the Associated Press, an anonymous e-mail was sent to the 82nd Airborne's All-American Chorus's chorus director, stating that someone in the chorus was gay.  The chorus director's response was to call everyone into the hallway and ask who was gay. Sergeant Copas complained to the platoon sergeant about the questions violating the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The platoon sergeant responded by asking if Sergeant Copas was gay. So much for the "don't ask" part of the policy.

According to the same AP piece, investigators interviewed Sergeant Copas asking questions that included whether he had any close friends who were gay, whether he was involved in community theater, and, of course, "Have you ever engaged in homosexual activity or conduct." He declined to answer 19 of 47 questions, asked for a lawyer, and stopped the questioning. For this, he was discharged.  Note to self: in case of draft, learn a few bars from Cabaret and Mame.

So, let us review. Sergeant Copas never told anybody that he was gay. An anonymous source e-mails Sergeant Copas's chorus director that someone in the chorus was gay, and the source fingers Copas in a later e-mail. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is violated by the chorus director, a platoon sergeant, and army investigators. And yet it is Sergeant Copas,  a decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist, who is discharged from the Army.

Something seems rotten in the state of Denm--er, in the US Army.

And something is rotten. Since the institution of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 1993, over 11,000 people have been kicked out of the armed forces for being homosexual or being suspected of being homosexual. Last year alone, 742 people were discharged. In 2001, the year of the worst terrorist attack on US soil, 1273 people were discharged.  Those dismissed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell includes 322 language specialists with skills that the DOD had considered "especially important" and nearly 800 specialists, including intelligence analysts, divers, and combat controllers in occupations described as "critical" (according to February 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office).

In an age where the US is facing potential armed conflicts against a multitude of threats, where 4,000 troops in Iraq scheduled to return home are being given stop-gap orders, and where the military death toll in Iraq stands at 2,565 and shows no signs of stopping, it is irresponsible to be kicking individuals out of the military based on their sexual orientation.

It is time that the United States join with nations as diverse as South Africa, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan, and lift our ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Originally posted to jedidiah on Sat Aug 05, 2006 at 10:23 AM PDT.

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