Precinct 333

Friday, April 08, 2005

Let Him Serve!

I've always thought "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a silly policy. Frankly, I thought the whole ban on homosexuals in the military was a bad idea before DADT was put in place. Quite simply, it deprives the military of good men and women who are ready, willing, and able to serve -- like this guy.

Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, says he has not encountered trouble from fellow soldiers and would like to stay if not for the policy that permits gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret.

"I know a ton of gay men that would be more than willing to stay in the Army if they could just be open," Stout said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But if we have to stay here and hide our lives all the time, it's just not worth it."

Stout, of Utica, Ohio, was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May.

He is believed to be the first gay soldier wounded in Iraq to publicly discuss his sexuality, said Aaron Belkin, director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

"We can't keep hiding the fact that there's gay people in the military and they aren't causing any harm," said Stout, who says he is openly gay among most of his 26-member platoon, which is part of the 9th Engineer Battalion based in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Stout, who served in Iraq for more than a year as a combat engineer, said by acknowledging he is gay, he could be jailed and probably will be discharged before his scheduled release date of May 31.

Let's look at this objectively. Here is a man who has shown himself more than adequate to the task of serving. Wounded in the line of duty, Stout certainly qualifies as a hero and a patriot in my book. I think the harm of discharging him is certainly more significant than the harm of keeping him -- and I believe that is the case with most homosexuals in the military.

Robert Stout is ready, willing, and able to serve. Let him.


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