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Study: 770 Discharged Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

June 21, 2004|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Even with concerns growing about waning numbers of military troops, 770 people were discharged for homosexuality last year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a study to be released today shows.

The figure, however, is significantly lower than the record 1,227 discharges in 2001 -- just before the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Since "don't ask, don't tell" was adopted in 1994, nearly 10,000 military personnel have been discharged -- including linguists, nuclear warfare experts and other key specialists.

The statistics, from the Defense Manpower Data Center and analyzed by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at UC Santa Barbara, gives a detailed profile of those discharged, including job specialty, rank and years of service.

Aaron Belkin, author of the study, said: "For the first time, we can see how [the policy] has impacted every corner of the military and goes to the heart of the military readiness argument."

"Don't ask, don't tell" allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in sexual acts.

The study, which analyzed military discharges between 1998 and 2003, found that the majority of those let go under "don't ask, don't tell" were active-duty enlisted personnel in the early stages of their careers.

Of the nearly 6,300 people discharged during that period, 75 were officers. Seventy-one percent were men.

The study found that the Army, the largest of the services, was responsible for about 41% of all discharges. The Army has invoked "stop-loss" authority to keep soldiers from retiring or otherwise leaving if they're deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

About 27% of the discharges came from the Navy, 22% from the Air Force and 9% from the Marines.

Hundreds of those discharged had held key positions, including 90 nuclear power engineers, 150 rocket and missile specialists, and 49 nuclear, chemical and biological warfare specialists.

Of 88 linguists let go, at least were seven Arabic specialists.

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