December 16, 2007
GNW 5: Gay teens on TV and streets
Posted by: Chris
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- "NYT: For gay teens, there is growing hope in numbers": QUICK LOOK: Michael Moreno, a 15-year-old 10th grader from Brewster, N.Y., could not believe what he was seeing as he walked into the big hall at the Westchester County Center, and... (MORE)
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- "Gay soldier says military lax on discharges during war": QUICK LOOK: A gay soldier says he disclosed his sexual orientation to his superiors, even offering graphic proof, and was neither discharged nor reprimanded, despite the military's... (MORE)
Tonight on "60 Minutes," Army Sgt. Darren Manzella will tell the story about how he came out to his commander in Iraq after receiving anonymous emails threatening to out him. He was investigated pursuant to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and even provided photos of himself kissing his boyfriend to authorities. But rather than being discharged, Manzella was told there was insufficient evidence of homosexuality, and he was retained by the Army.
His story may seem shocking, but actually it's par for the course because military leadership knows the ban on service by out gays is an anachronism, since gays are generally accepted without incident by fellow soldiers and sailors, just as they are in the armed services of the U.K., Australia, Israel and many other countries.
Manzella highlights several of the most outrageous aspects of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," among them being government policy that allows gays to serve but requires that they lie in deference to the (presumed) personal prejudices of other service members.
Just as disturbingly, the policy allows a loophole for straight service members to avoid war in Iraq or Afghanistan by claiming they are gay -- think of a modern-day version of Klinger in "M*A*S*H." There's no question that some significant percentage of those higher discharges since Bill Clinton agreed to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" are heterosexuals escaping their military obligation.
Finally, it's clear that the U.S. military, strapped by two wars and extended international commitments, has little interest in discharging gay service members with good records doing good for their country. Discharges have dropped from 2,000 a year in 2001 to half that amount in the last several. To be fair, it's not up to the military to change the policy, since it's now the law of the land, but the Pentagon could be more blunt with Congress and the White House that the time has come to end the ban.
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