Monday, August 07, 2006

Army Protects Decorated Soldier By Firing Him

Last week, Little Cicero defended our government's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy on gay people serving in the military by arguing variously that it served to protect LGBT servicemembers from homophobes and that First Amendment speech protections are not severely compromised by the rule, as the only possible reason for a person to "announce" that they are a homosexual would be to proposition a fellow soldier.

Earlier he had also asked for evidence that people are being fired simply for being gay.

Well, conveniently the Army has just provided us with another classic example.

In January of this year, the army discharged Arabic specialist Bleu Copas after his supervisors had received a series of anonymous emails outing him as a homosexual.

Mr. Copas did not violate the government policy, which does not ban gay people from military service, it only requires them not to disclose their orientation and prohibits other people from asking about it. He was aware of the policy going in, and chose to obey it, in order to serve his country.

Rather, his supervisors broke the rules by asking him about his orientation. Even then he did not answer their questions, in keeping with the policy. Instead, they launched an "eight month investigation" into his private life.

According to CNN, "Lt. Col. James Zellmer, Copas' commanding officer in the 313th military intelligence battalion, told the AP that 'the evidence clearly indicated that Sgt. Copas had engaged in homosexual acts.'"

Mr. Copas received awards and citations for his military service. He was discharged because of his sexuality.

The General Accountability Office reports that 726 military personnel were discharged for being gay in 2005; an 11% increase over 2004. Many of the discharged soldiers had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five spoke Arabic, including Copas. Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million.

In order to meet recruitment goals, the Army is now taking on soldiers like Steven Green, a high school dropout with a history of mental problems. Green got sent to Iraq; now he stands accused of raping a woman and killing her family. But at least he's not gay.


Well said-Last Debate said...

Insitutional discrimination is well documented throughout the history of the armed services.

LC's position (after given facts) is a typical conservative, closed minded defense of institutional discrimination. I'll not attach a name to his position, as others did in that thread.

President Clinton could have simply ordered the end of homosexual discrimination, but he was more concerned with his own popularity.

Compare that to President Truman's desegragation decision over 55 years ago. Truman's decision (his polls were very low at the time) is a lesson in leadership by a Commander of the military.

LeshDogg said...

Geez, Andy. I don't know which sector would lose / lost a more valuable player. The opera for losing you (having never heard you sing, through your stories I can only imagine your "chops"), or the LGBT Activist community if you didn't have to leave the opera.

My beef with DADT (aside from the BLATANT civil rights violations) is that any one with a modicum of intelligence can realize that this has to potential to turn into a McCarthy-esque witch hunt of grand scale.

Got a beef with a soldier? Accuse him of being gay! Hate your CO? Tell the brass you are pretty sure he hit on you! Once the accusation is made, it appears the burden of proof is on the accused. Private grievances become public and the armed services lose dedicated patriots because of this policy.

In all of the previous posts, I think LC did make a good point in acknowledging that his ignorance comes from not knowing any homosexuals and that the only way he can / might(?) understand the issues is to know and befriend one. Perhaps this gets to the crux of the issue: DADT should be abolished so the "homophobes" in the armed services can see that homosexuals can kick as much enemy butt as the straight folks.

Andy said...

Thanks, Mr. Lesh! : ) You make a great point. I wasn't able to find it again, but recently I read an article about conservative Christians and their attitudes toward homosexuality, and overwhelmingly, those that were opposed to homosexuality *claimed* they didn't know any homosexuals. I'm pretty sure they do, they just don't know it. And that is really the POINT of DADT, isn't it? If those tough-as-nails old army coots are forced to acknowledge that some of their best soldiers are gay, well...that would rock their worldview a bit now, wouldn't it?

Matthew said...

Great post, Andy, although frustrating subject matter. How anyone can defend the DADT policy and still say they believe in freedom and liberty is beyond me.

Jess said...

Well put. I have nothing to add but my agreement.

Quinn said...

The Daily Show covered the story, and joked that Bleu made a scathing criticism of the policy, but that nobody could understand it because it was in Arabic. Heh.

little-cicero said...

This is a case of a violation of DADT by the "askers" rather than the "tellers". What more is there to say? People in the military don't believe in DADT, but that has little Constitutional significance. I ask you, in all your expertise, whether it is up to the courts to scrutinize policies in accord with the Constitution, or to scrutinize enforcements? We have been having a constitutional discussion- not simply a policy discussion. Is the policy defined by the enforcement? It very well may be, but if the policy is separate from the enforcement, then this report should not yield the condemnation of DADT that you're suggesting.

Andy said...

Well, Little Cicero, I think you're asking two separate questions. "Is DADT Constitutional?" is a separate legal issue aside from why the gay soldier is the one punished when his supervisors asked the forbidden question. But I'm glad you agree that the wrong person is in trouble, regardless of how we feel about the value of DADT.