Airman fired under 'don't ask, don't tell'

2011-06-03 13:27

Washington - The Air Force has discharged an airman under the law banning gays from serving openly in the military, the first firing since President Barack Obama signed legislation aimed at ending the ban.

The ban, laid out in the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" law, is just months from being lifted.

The service member was discharged April 29, Air Force spokesperson Lt Col Todd Vician said late on Thursday.

"The airman in the case asked to be separated expeditiously," Vician said, adding that he didn't know other details of the case, nor the gender of the service member. The Air Force uses the term "airman" for both men and women.

The firing is also the first since Defence Secretary Robert Gates in October made it harder to throw someone out of the military for being openly gay. Gates at the time ordered that all dismissals under don't ask, don't tell be decided by the person's service secretary in consultation with the military's general counsel and Gates' personnel chief.

Gates said the purpose of narrowing those in charge of dismissal was to "ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement" at a time of "legal uncertainty". The law was under assault in the courts at the time and a federal judge in California had ordered the military to stop enforcing it.

The April discharge is the only one approved following the Gates directive, said Eileen Lainez, a Defence Department spokesperson.

Repeal of the old law

Vician said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley approved it after consulting with general counsel and the head of personnel. "Each of these officials evaluated the case carefully and concluded that separation was appropriate," he said.

Lainez noted that until repeal of don't ask, don't tell occurs, "it remains in effect, and the Department of Defence will continue to apply the law as it is obligated to do."

Under the legislation Obama signed in December, troops are now being trained on the repeal of the old law. The president and top defence officials must still certify the repeal won't hurt the military's ability to fight, and repeal would be official 60 days after that.

Aubrey Sarvis of the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defence Network said the discharge underscores the need for officials to wrap up the repeal process "and put this ugly chapter in American history behind us".

  • Shivermetimb - 2011-06-03 14:42

    I must admit if someone is going to take a bullet for me I dont care whether he is straight, gay, or anything in between.

      barryjoelm - 2011-06-03 16:07


  • Beannie - 2011-06-03 14:46

    I totally agree with Shivermetimb. Its just ridiculous, to fire the guy or girl.

  • martin - 2011-06-03 14:48

    Jesus would never have condemned homosexuals, and I speak as a "straight" man. We all count and matter to God. All men and women who suffer this type of bullying, and who are saddened, or depressed because of it, will find inspiration in "The Lottery Code" by Hattingh- Spurgeon.

      Bloodbane - 2011-06-04 13:37

      there is no god and jesus was fighting against roman's not for your soul

      Craig - 2011-06-04 13:58

      Jesus loved the sinner but hated the sin.

      AraBilly - 2011-06-04 14:47

      @Bloodbane: We are praying for you to. Glad you ackknowledge Jesus though.

      Cassander - 2011-06-04 17:07

      @Joe. Your 'God' also banned crayfish and clothes of different materials but apparently didn't have a problem with slavery and genocide.

  • Catherine Robinson - 2011-06-03 15:48

    Wow! Nice to see such supportive comments from South Africans here. :-D

  • sardonicus - 2011-06-03 16:06

    I can't help but say how on earth can the US have such a discriminatory policy? What happened to being the champions of justice? Who cares if he's gay, if he's a good pilot, I don't see why it should make any difference?

      Craig - 2011-06-04 13:59

      Gay is wrong

      Joe - 2011-06-04 16:46

      Who said it was a 'he', you sexist!

      Mzungu - 2011-06-04 18:48

      Craig, being insecure about your sexuality, and feeling intimidated by homosexuals is wrong

  • rubilacxe - 2011-06-03 20:16

    Yeah because everyone in the air force is a pilot. .......anyway. More likely it was someone in basic that couldn't hack it and used the tried and true "I'm gay" excuse to get sent home.

  • Caitlin.Champion1 - 2011-06-04 11:36

    I have seen a few people actually try and use the "I'm COMPLETELY flaming! WOOOO!" Excuse to get out of basic training.... Like they really, really put on a show to try and be ridiculous as possible to force someone to kick them out. Perhaps this is one of those times.

  • Tony - 2011-06-04 11:54

    Not to say because he is in the Air Force that he is a pilot..many different occupations in all military groups.

  • Ralph - 2011-06-04 20:16

    Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich received a Bronze Star in Vietnam for killing two Viet Cong soldiers in an attack on his post. He was discharged in 1975 for admitting to homosexuality but not for any inappropriate behaviour. In 1980 he was reinstated by a Federal Judge who ruled that the Air Force had failed to clarify it's policy on homosexual dismissals. Matlovich died in 1988 and these words are on his tombstone - "They gave me a medal for killing two men - and a discharge for loving one."

  • OutMilitary - 2011-06-04 21:25

    Thanks for reporting this story. FYI – is providing a supportive environment for friending, sharing and networking between Gay active military, vets and supporters.

  • pages:
  • 1