The United States Navy has again assigned an openly gay sailor to duty in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR).
Former Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight, a Hebrew linguist recently deployed to Kuwait, has been placed on IRR duty until April 2009, despite publicly ‘coming out’ in national media and being told he would receive a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” dismissal.
Knight has now served openly during two tours with the Navy, with the support of his command and colleagues.
“It’s a very pleasant, and unexpected, surprise to learn that the Navy so values Jason’s service that they have again assigned him to the Individual Ready Reserves, despite his very public advocacy as an openly gay man,” Steve Ralls, director of communications for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), told the military newspaper Stars & Stripes in a statement.
Knight captured national attention in May when he revealed, also in Stars & Stripes, that he accepted a call-back to active duty and deployed to the Middle East, where he served openly, despite the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel.
Knight had also been out to his first Navy command. That command also dismissed Knight for ‘completion of service,’ despite knowing about his sexual orientation, and also assigned him to the IRR. That assignment led to his second tour in the Navy.
“I have been nothing but proud of my service in the Navy, and I’m ready to serve in the Individual Ready Reserves and to return to active duty if called,” Knight said.
During a televised debate last Sunday the 2008 democratic presidential contenders unanimously stated that they supported the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel.
However, on Tuesday, in a similar debate on CNN the Republican presidential candidates indicated they would choose to maintain “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Speaking in New Hampshire, many of the leading candidates said they believed the policy “is working.”
“I don’t think this would be the right time to raise these issues,” former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani said. Guiliani was joined by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who told the audience that “I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. It is working, my friends. The policy is working.”
Since its implementation 1993, more than 11,000 service members have been dismissed under the law, including nearly 800 with skills deemed ‘mission-critical’ by the Department of Defense. More than 300 language specialists alone have been removed from the services because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The cost to taxpayers has been estimated at $363.8 million dollars.