PROFNET EXPERT ALERTS: Education & Government

Thursday, July 31, 2008 General News J E 4

Follow are experts in military and LGBT issues who can comment on themilitary's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military, in light oflegislation that has been introduced to overturn the ban. The policy wasintended to keep the military from asking recruits their sexual orientation,and to prevent servicemembers from declaring they are gay or bisexual orengaging in homosexual activity. Opponents of the policy have denounced it ascruel and unpatriotic; supporters insist it is needed to maintain militarymorale:

1. MAJOR GENERAL TOM WILKERSON (USMC, Ret.) is the chief executive officer ofthe U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, one of the oldest professional military associationsin the United States: "There are and always have been gay men and womenserving in the armed forces. Historically, we have held them to a higherstandard than that of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in thatthey had to conceal their preferences in private as well as in public and,like all others serving, not let it stray into their military life. I thinktheir assimilation into the military is inevitable -- but, as with all othersocial experiments using the military, whether it was racial integration orpermitting women to serve equally alongside men, the change will take forcesoutside the military (read: the president) to make it happen." News Contacts:Sandy Rice, Phone: +1-646-509-9025, andJennefer Witter, Phone: +1-718-543-1503 Web site: (7/30/08)

2. DAVID STACY, senior public policy advocate for the Human Rights Campaignvia CAPLAN COMMUNICATIONS: "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don'tHarass' (DADT) -- the current policy prohibiting gays and lesbians fromserving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces -- is the only law in the country thatforces people to be dishonest about their personal lives or be fired orpossibly imprisoned. This discriminatory policy hurts military readiness andnational security while putting American soldiers fighting overseas at risk.As of January 2008, more than 12,000 Americans have been dismissed under DADT.This does not include the many who voluntarily decided to leave the militarydue to DADT. Countless gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans have and willcontinue to serve in the U.S. military with distinction. The question iswhether they will have to lie about their sexual orientation to do so. Sinceenactment of the DADT policy, numerous gay and lesbian troops have servedopenly while pending discharge with no effect on unit performance, readiness,cohesion or morale. Moreover, U.S. military personnel are already serving sideby side with openly gay service members -- with no identifiable negativeeffects -- in and from countries throughout the world." News Contact: TrevorR. Thomas, Phone: +1-202-216-1547 (7/30/08)

3. NEIL GUSSMAN, communications manager at CHEMICAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION and aPRSA member, served during Vietnam and re-enlisted last fall after 23 years ofbeing a civilian. He is currently in an Army National Guard aviation brigadein Pennsylvania, and is getting ready to go to Iraq in January. In May, hewent through three weeks of pre-deployment training. Since he started over asan enlisted man, during those three weeks, he slept in an open-bay barrackwith 30 other enlisted men: "There are no more or less gay jokes than Iremember from the '70s; in fact, they are pretty much the same jokes I heard35 years ago. The big difference is the verbal twist that puts a nod to 'Don'tAsk, Don't Tell' in the jokes now. So if one soldier grabs another soldier,when the guy who got grabbed swings, yells or otherwise protests, the firstsays, 'Don't ask, don't tell.' It has become a flippant joke that says thepolicy is ridiculous as soon as the four words are uttered." (7/30/08)



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