More Gay Linguists Discharged Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

As a result of a random and what one soldier called “aggressive” review of computer logs by the Defense Department one day last December, three additional Arab linguists who are gay have been discharged from the Army under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

ArmyThe discharges have angered lawmakers, 40 of whom signed a letter written by Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan, who has been spearheading the charge to end the military’s flawed DADT policy. Meehan’s bill has 124 co-sponsors but Congress and the Defense Department have expressed little interest in reviewing it.

Said Meehan: “At a time when our military is stretched to the limit and our cultural knowledge of the Middle East is dangerously deficient, I just can’t believe that kicking out able, competent Arabic linguists is making our country any safer.”

Aside from the obvious discrimination, the military has now discharged 58 Arab linguists for being gay at a time when the military is stretched to its limits in the Middle East.

One of the recent discharges, former Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Benjamin, told the Associated Press that his supervisor tried to get him to sign a statement denying he is gay: “He said his lawyer advised him not to sign it, because it could be used against him later if other evidence ever surfaced…Benjamin said he was caught improperly using the military’s secret level computer system to send messages to his roommate, who was serving in Iraq. In those messages, he said, he may have referred to being gay or going on a date. ‘I’d always been out since the day I started working there,’ Benjamin said. ‘We had conversations about being gay in the military and what it was like. There were no issues with unit cohesion. I never caused divisiveness or ever experienced slurs.'”

A recent article in the NYT suggested that the military may be reviewing its options in this area, but little movement has been seen and these latest discharges suggest change is not coming anytime soon.

You may have missed…
Former President Jimmy Carter: Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ [tr]
Navy Discharges Gay Sailor Called Back to Active Duty [tr]
First Marine Wounded in Iraq Comes Out of the Closet; Calls for Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” [tr]
Outed by Email: An Army Sergeant’s Digital Discharge [tr]


  1. hill_w says

    Just a point of honest curiosity: How is it that there are so many gay Arab linguists to begin with? Does anyone have an answer for this?

  2. ReasonBased says

    This is what happens when you have a FAITH BASED government where an incompetent fool “talks” to Jesus who tells him which countries to invade and who hires his staff from Patt Robertson’s “university.” I am convinced that the only reason gays are being discriminated in this country, even when it endangers national security, is due to religious faith. This will never change until society becomes more secular and outgrows its tendency for superstition and religion.

  3. says

    This is what happens when you have a FAITH BASED government where an incompetent fool “talks” to Jesus who tells him which countries to invade and who hires his staff from Patt Robertson’s “university.” I am convinced that the only reason gays are being discriminated against in this country, even when it endangers national security, is due to religious faith. This will never change until society becomes more secular and outgrows its tendency for superstition and religion.

  4. Derrick from Philly says

    I know there are some intelligent, thoughtful people who come to this blog who are registered Republicans. But do you understand that issues like this are why we cannot respect your party. Your party has been controlled by facist idiots for 40 years now. You think just because you get enough stupid voters (over the last 40 years) to vote your way, it proves you have the right message. No, it simply proves there are enough American voters who are as stupid as the leadership of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, all the American people will pay the price.

    Barack? Hillary? John? Bill? Will you please say something with some meaning/substance, or do we have to wait for Al to loose some weight and do what he was destined to do?

  5. dan says

    i wonder how the don’t ask don’t tell policy is going to hold up when they have to reinstitute the draft in a year or so to make up for the utterly decimated military?

  6. Myackie says

    Regarding “cultural knowledge of the Middle East”…I knew we were doomed from the very start when I saw news footage of US GI’s entering an Iraqi town and commenting that the locals were all giving them the “thumbs up” sign.

    In the Middle East, the “thumbs up” is the equivalent of the middle finger being extended in the US.

    The fact that none of the GI’s was aware of this told me a lot.

    Additionally, I don’t believe that Bush or his administration (who were appointed, BTW, NOT elected) are “faith based”. I think it’s a BS cover…they are merely greedy liars pretending to be relig1ous.

  7. Jonathon says

    Here’s a novel idea: How about hiring/firing based on ABILITY, not SEXUAL ORIENTATION?

    We need Arabic-speaking people working for our military. We need people who have cultural understanding and expertise. Why drum them out of the service just because they prefere the company of their own gender?

    This is a travesty. One day, future Americans will look back and wonder why in the hell people nowadays were so stupid!

  8. anon says

    In the meantime, the military should automatic transfer for these soldiers to the civilian side of the agency as civilian linguists. The civilian part of the DoD does not fall under DADT. The other part is the DA part of DADT. If they don’t ask no one will get hurt.

  9. Leland says

    FLY NAKED! [explained below] The question is WHY when, under these special circumstances, this is the absolutely hottest, exploitable, easy for the dumbest American to understand gay rights issue is SLDN not going full charge on this?

    It could so easily, so effectively be tied to the public’s fear of terrorism. In this case, their minds have already been unintentionally “made ready” by our own domestic enemies the Bushies who’ve been daily force feeding them fear of another terrorist attack for the last six years. And it could be our cheapest investment ever. Only several thousand dollars invested in simple full-page ads repeatedly in newspapers all across the country, dripping in the Red, White, & Blue, in essence simply saying, “You, your children, and America are in real danger because of the ill-rational bigotry of a few men in Washington,” and giving the examples of these discharged gay linguists would, I am convinced, destroy DADT in a year max. WHY hasn’t this been done? If SLDN doesn’t have the money then why doesn’t “the nation’s leading gay right organization,” the $35 million a year Human Rights Champagne fund pay for such ads?

    Instead, to the best of my knowledge, SLDN and HRC are doing the same old useless tactics: press releases no one reads, ads in gay publications that are superfluous, and the occasional AP article that not enough non-gay Americans will read or even see to create the kind of demand for change that COULD be created NOW! With only that even a VOTE in Congress, let alone passage, is YEARS away. Oh, I forgot their ULTIMATE WEAPON: SLDN has “partnered” with Reichen and his “FLY NAKED” jewelry line. How many “FLY NAKED” rings do you think the Pentagon has ordered for the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Will they be sold on military bases next to the baseball bats used to bludgeon gay soldiers to death? Will SLDN be selling a Reichen-modeled camouflage jock strap? Now THAT would really bring home the injustice, the danger of DADT!

    And, yes, kiddies, if you go to the LoveandPride site you can see the latest nude pictures of Reichen; nude except for the jewelry of course, and despite the fact that he recently complained that people only wanted to see his body and didn’t want to listen to his “message.” Given his history I think the “FLY NAKED” money clip is the most representative item.

  10. Dean says

    The War Against Terror (TWAT) should start right here at home. We need to stop the politicans (mainly the RepubliCONs) from using terror to influence an ignorant population to allow them uncontrolled power.

    I’m extremely tired of being told how afraid I should be. I am not one bit (one jot! one iota!) more afraid today than I was before 9/11. So, we know there are people in the world who want to kill us. *I* knew there were people in the world who wanted to kill us pre-9/11. So what??!! Hell, as gay folk, there are “good ole Americans” who want to kill us. I refuse to live my life in fear.

    Hmm… I suppose I should tie this rant in with the actual story, so… How can it be said that we are “liberating Iraq” when we have this type of situation in our own country? Yeah, yeah… I know. “In Iraq, you would be killed for being gay.” Oh, goody. In our country you are ONLY discriminated against… you can be fired… you can be denied housing… you can’t marry… OH yes… you CAN even be killed. Just ask Matthew Shepard, Sakia Gunn, and Barry Winchell.

    Maybe we should start practicing “liberty” ourselves before we take it on an enforced roadtrip.

  11. KevinVT says

    Back to Hill_W’s question: why so many gay Arab linguists? As a gay linguist myself, I can testify that there are more gay men in foreign languages than in many other fields. When I was in grad school, it was assumed that if you were a male in foreign languages, you were gay. Many of my best students are gay men.

    In my own case, I think it has something to do with growing up passing as straight — passing is a kind of acting, and it’s precisely the kind of thing one strives to do as a language speaker — to pass in the other culture/language.

    The term “linguist” is being used rather loosely here: what they mean is “Arabic-speakers” or “translators from Arabic.” Linguistics is rather a discipline that analyzes languages at a higher level (structural, historical, socio-), while I suspect these servicemembers are just fluent (one hopes) in speaking/listening/reading Arabic.

  12. Rich says

    What I cant believe is that there were 58 gay arab linguists in the military to begin with. that is bizarre to me. How many arab linguists are in the military I wonder. a thousand?

  13. CK says

    It no longer matters anymore WHO created DADT or brought it into being and on whose watch it happened, it has gone beyond blame and shame… all that matters, is it has to be ENDED. Don’t CARE who does it but it has to happen…. how the FUCK(!?!?!?!?!) can these stupid goddam defense force fools justify this any longer? What a bunch of mf’s! Get your heads out of your asses, Gen Pace and you other homophobic GOP fucks, and grow up and into the 21st century! YOU are making us less safe with these actions, noone else!

  14. Gay Jihad says

    Re: The War Against Terror (TWAT)

    That is exactly what these dismissals are all about!

    It’s not just a coincidence that 58 Gay Arabic Linguists have been dismissed (just try to do the math).

    The GOP has had a history of employing “hate crimes” tactics to intimidate or communicate specific messages to groups of people they wish they see the tow their party line. ie the attorney generals fired from their job.

    And in this case it’s a bit of a double whammy : they get to malign both the Arabic (“jihadists”) & the gay (“immoral”) – so it’s a slam dunk.

    Also, it’s very much in line with previous attacks they’ve launched against the gay community and liberals in the last few months:

    1- General Pace calling gays “immoral”.
    2- Ann Coulter calling Edwards a “faggot”.
    3- Mitt Romney calling San Francisco the stage for liberal social agenda, “Nancy Pelosi- style.”
    4- Battlecry christian group dispatching 20,000 teens to protest in liberal, queer San Francisco in March.
    5- The army recruiter sending an anti-gay letter to a gay black soldier in which she tells him to “go back to Africa and do your gay voodoo limbo tango and wango dance”.

    ..And on and on and on..

    Read “Fascist America, in 10 easy steps”,,2064157,00.html

  15. James Mitchell says

    I am a straight guy who knows a few people from DLI as my friend Sylvia has a double BA and a PhD and speaks five languages and was raised in Carmel. She lives in Switzerland now, unfortunately for me. But she did have association with the DLI via her academic pursuits. She has much respect for that calling and is well aware that there are many there that are gay and lesbian and want to serve their country. I have been following this for a few years as I know some people from DLI that hang out at the English Pub at Monterey Municipal Harbor. (Sushi Steak Bar Above).

    I would like to copy this article, but you have no printer friendly option and a black background, waste of ink. Think about it.

    This has been going on for years and is detrimental to our security. I speak German and Spanish,but we need people with mid-east language skills andit is silly to throw them away. THere is little coverage of this, though I have tried to point itout to the media.

    Whatever. Your webpage is user-unfriendly. Make it so the text can be easily copied and sent. Just a suggestion.

  16. nic says

    the discharging of qualified and essential, military personnel for no good reason is absurd in the extreme, but nothing surprises me about this most incompetent administration. ever since the swaggering simpleton was awarded the presidency in a right-wing judicial coup, we have been through the looking glass — a kind of bizzarro world where lies are truth, yes means no, treason means patriotism or patriotism means treason, and greed is godliness. we’ve had energy policy written by big oil, congress owned by k street, “kenny boy” lay, “your doing a good job brownie,” “mission accomplished,” no bid contracts to haliburton, 3400+ soldiers dead, 15,000+ physically injured, and who knows how many american soldiers with psychiatric problems. then there is the iraqi human toll: conservative estimates say up to 70k (no, i’ll write it out: 70,000 dead), but by some estimates, 700,000+ dead, 2 million displaced citizens — most of which were doctors, teachers, and other HUMAN BEINGS who might have helped rebuild the country that the “shrub” and cronies destroyed, notwithstanding the shell-shocked generation of little boys and girls who will forever hate us. but because of this patrician pansy who never earned anything on his own merits and his cabal of draft evaders’ (v.p. rictus, wolfowitz, perle, and the effete neo-cons at the “weekly standard.”) admonitions, otherwise good men’s reputations were destroyed: tony blair and colin powell. why, oh why, are these sham-good-men not tarred and feathered and ridden out on a rail? impeachment is too light: the whole sleazy lot should be tried for war crimes. where is the outrage? am i the only one sickened by the aberration that is the bush administration?

  17. Powder says

    I agree with the DOD on this. Somehow the DOD found out these people were”Gay” Which means at some point during the job those people were talking about Sexual Gender while on the job. In Corporate America doing such is called Sexual Harassment. That is in most cases termination. With the DOD and most other civilian companies!

    I care less about the religious debate nor how shitty Bush is doing. But it is what it is. So quit trying to politicize it.

  18. xpowderx says

    Just had to add. If they were fired from the DOD then that means they put there SEXUAL ORIENTATION AHEAD OF THE JOB they were SUPPOSED TO DO>.

  19. nic says

    powder, wtf is wrong w/u? first of all, the expression is, “i could NOT care less.” then, the use of the negative “nor” would be appropriate. but you have appreciation neither for the micro- nor macro-picture of the topic, so why even bother with you? i think it was better said by “dear abby”: it is better to be quiet and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  20. nic says

    to James Mitchell: if all straight men were as awake as you, this country would be in a much better shape. the bush administration’s anti-smart, stupided-down, fear-fed propaganda has caused great harm to this once-great nation. but, that is how fascism takes hold: frighten the populace, demonize the media, round up the intellectuals, burn books, blame the gays, blame the Jews, blame the immigrants. it remains to us, the voices in the dark, the voices in the wilderness to say, “no more.” this is not a straight/gay issue, nor is it a race/ethnic issue, it is an issue that we all own in our core, what some call a soul, it is the most basic understanding that we are all human.

  21. Dean says

    Powder: Sexual gender?? What the hell is THAT? I think the phrase you were seeking but not finding was “sexual orientation”. Not that it would make your post anymore rational. I assume you mean to say that those discharged were “preying” on innocent little soldier boys. Hardly. Sexuality isn’t all about the act itself. Something as simple as “Oh, I went there with my boy/girlfriend (gay/lesbian respectively)” would do it. What “it is” is a stupid, ignorant WASTEFUL policy that needs to be retired.

    James M.: Printer-friendly it might not be but the easy solution is to copy and paste it. You can then transfer it to email or a printed version if you like.

  22. xpowderx says

    Hi guys, I should perhaps explain a little more as to why I posted such.

    I work for a government agency first. Now to explain a few things to you. When i am at work everything is monitored. When I send a email from work it is monitored as well.

    The problem that arises from it is this. I am expected to do a job. Anything and everything I do on a computer or a phone call is to be work related.

    I think some are jumping to a assertion that
    is not true. If I were to email a boyfriend or girlfriend from my workplace I would be in trouble. Why? Because it is not related to my job.And with this agency all emails are checked regardless. The same applies with phonecalls from the agency.

    While interacting with other employees I cannot be as friendly as I would like. Why? because any single one thing I do could and can be found as subject to SEXUAL HARASSMENT.

    While the story is interesting, I do see any real relevance to it. I see people everyday lose jobs where I work. The difference is they do not make it a agenda. Most just move on to something else. How many people you think in a 3 month period lose a job with the DOD? Should they all get together and claim its discrimination? Or its unfair?

    I understand that some of the gay community are sensitive and I know some predjudice is out there.But really it comes down to what each of those workers said or did while on company time.

    As far as the DOD, there is no place in its structure to form or have a relationship while on the clock. I will give you a link as to why they probably lost there job.

    Here is a part of that you will find interesting. “and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment,” and “# The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
    # The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.”.

    This applies strictly at my workplace and imagine any other government agency has it in place.

    I hope this helps a bit in understanding why so many people lose there jobs in government. Not just “Gays” but “straights” as well.

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