Number of gays leaving military rises

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Number of gays leaving military rises

WASHINGTON – The number of military members discharged under the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals rose by 11 percent last year the first increase since 2001, officials said Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, said 726 service members were discharged under the policy during the 2005 budget year that ended last Sept. 30. That compares with 653 discharges the year before. She released the figures after a gay rights advocacy group said it had obtained the statistics on its own.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which has represented military members who were forced out for being openly gay, says the Pentagon’s policy deprives the military of qualified and experienced personnel in at a time when the Army and Marine Corps have struggled to meet their recruiting goals…

     

The policy prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon has given any indication of dropping their long-standing support for the policy, implemented in 1993 under the Clinton administration.

“The law deprives our nation of thousands of skilled men and women who could be instrumental in fighting the war on terror,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Discharges under this policy peaked at 1,227 in 2001, then fell to 885 the following year and to 770 in 2003.


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