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We need someone who can write a dynamite petition! April 13, 2005 5:21 PM

Received this via Military.com just now. Can someone review this and come up with a petition that has merit and sharp teeth? The issue and timing are perfect. Email me at enway at minister dot com if you have an idea for it, I'd like to proofread, if you don't mind. Gay U.S. Soldier Wants To Serve Openly Associated Press April 8, 2005 WASHINGTON - 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.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 April 14, 2005 2:18 PM

Wayne...I just forwarded this to my immediate network of friends without mentioning either your name or the specific group as I didn't have your permission. If I get a hit, then I will let you know. I have some experience with writing petitions but I'm not great and I belive a gay man or a lesbian woman should write this which rules me out.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 April 14, 2005 7:23 PM

i support him and u in this endevour. i am not good at persuasive writing. maybe mention the fact that at the start of the iraq war, several (i think like 20+) soldiers were kicked out of the army for being gay. they all had one thing in common. they all spoke the iraqi language or other middle eastern languages. now, how does that make us stronger in the fight against terror? the army and fbi/cia have a shortage of translators, so documents are not read in a timely manner. but, god forbid a GAY person translates them! i think it was before the war or right after 9/11. i'll try to look it up. steph  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
here is an article April 15, 2005 6:56 AM

Published on Friday, November 15, 2002 by the Associated Press US Army Linguists Fired for Being Gay All Spent Months In Intensive Training SAN FRANCISCO -- Nine United States Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay. The soldiers' dismissals come at a time when the US military is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the fight against terrorism. Seven of the soldiers were discharged after telling superiors they were gay, and another two got into trouble when they were caught together after curfew, said a spokesman for the Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network, which defends homosexuals in the military. Six were specializing in Arabic, two were studying Korean and one was studying Mandarin Chinese. All were at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, the military's primary language training center. The US Government has aggressively recruited Arabic speakers since the September11 attacks. "We face a drastic shortage of linguists, and the direct impact of Arabic speakers is a particular problem," said Donald Hamilton, who documented the need for more linguists in a report to Congress as part of the National Commission on Terrorism.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 April 15, 2005 12:57 PM

Wayne...My amazing friend Denise S. sent me a net message with a number of great links to petitions that may be of use at least as reference points: Hope this finds you well, as am I. Thank you so much for the green star. Just received your message. Knew of one petition (didn't like it much) at: http://www.petitiononline.com/gayvets/petition.html Here is a site of another (much better): http://www.sldn.org/templates/ban.html There's another at the Human Rights Campaign website (the two below are great): http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/actioncenter/home.html as well as one here: http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/millionformarriageac These may help you. Take care and stay well. Peace, Denise S.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 April 18, 2005 3:40 AM

Wayne...I received another offer of help from yet another friend: Dear Skull, I spoke with my father and he and I would love to try to help you with this, if you dont have one done already. Being gay and being discrimmanded against is something that pisses me off more then I could ever put into words. Let me know if you have one already, so I dont waste time on it , but we going too start writing on it today and tomm and send it back to you and let you see what we have and if you like it, just let me know. I hope that I might be able to shead some light on this, I really dont have any heart for ppl that feel against gays and what not, I believe that gays have just as much right to anything as anyone else in this world and it shouldnt matter. I just watched Dateline on Friday, and it was on a man who was wonded in Iraq and has 1 leg and he is the first man that has been sent back to fight with an amp leg, so I feel if he can go back, why cant this man, in spite of his being gay. I am sorry, this is an issue that I have fought for , for many years and always deal with, when I hear about gays being denied things, I just get so mad, as if it was me being denied. Anyways, Have a wonderful day, Hugs, leighann  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
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