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`Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Discharges Increase 11%

May 25, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The number of military members discharged under the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals rose by 11% last year, the first increase since 2001, officials said Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, said 726 service members were discharged under the policy during the 2005 budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with 653 discharges the year before. She released the figures after a gay rights group said it had obtained the statistics on its own.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which has represented military members who were forced out for being openly gay, says the Pentagon's policy deprives the military of qualified and experienced personnel.

The policy prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.

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