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Volume 34
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Military bases see spike in 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' dismissals
Military bases see spike in 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' dismissals
Gay dismissals climb at Fort Campbell, scene of 1999 anti-Gay murder

Several U.S. military installations saw a significant increase in the number of troops dismissed under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly Gay service members in 2005, according to new data obtained by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Overall, 2005 dismissals increased from 668 in 2004 to 742 last year.

The sharpest increase in "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" dismissals occurred at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where PFC Barry Winchell was murdered in 1999 by fellow soldiers who believed Winchell was Gay. In 2004, the base discharged 19 soldiers under the ban; that number climbed to 49 in 2005. Fort Sill, Oklahoma, also saw a significant increase, from 8 dismissals in 2004 to 27 last year. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, a large training facility for the Army, saw an increase as well, from 40 in 2004 to 60 in 2005. Parris Island, South Carolina, a Marine Corps base, discharged 22 service members in 2005, up from just 12 the prior year.

"When the Pentagon fires skilled service members for being Gay, like former Arabic linguist Bleu Copas, it is being utterly irresponsible," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN. "No American cares if the person who thwarts a plot to blow up an airplane is Gay. We care that our nation is secure. Congress should pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and repeal the archaic and counterproductive 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law immediately."

Neither the Pentagon nor officials at the bases mentioned have provided an explanation of the increase in dismissals. Overall, Gay discharges have decreased nearly 40% since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The FY2005 dismissals represent the first annual increase since the beginning of the war on terror.

"Those who serve our country deserve respect and honor, not pink slips and dismissals," said Osburn.

A complete synopsis of base-specific dismissals is available online at www.sldn.org.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance. For more information, visit www.sldn.org.



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