The United States Navy has informed Petty Officer Second Class Jason Knight that it intends to again fire him under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law just weeks prior to completing his one-year commitment.
In 2005, Petty Officer Jason Knight ‘came out’ to his command which led to his original discharge from the Navy. Surprisingly, he was recalled to active duty in June 2006 and recently completed a tour of duty in Kuwait, where he was open about his sexual orientation with his command and fellow sailors.
Knight told his story last weekend in the newspaper Stars & Stripes, after which he was notified on Thursday that he will be receiving an honourable discharge from the Navy based, in part, on his recent media interviews.
Knight was scheduled to end his commitment on May 28, 2007, but will face early dismissal because he chose to go public about his experience.
“Jason Knight was an exemplary sailor who gladly returned to active duty when our country needed him,” said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “Now, despite his dedication and service, and the praise of those he served alongside, the Navy has decided to fire him because he dared to tell his story and put a public face to the courage of lesbian and gay service personnel. Our nation should be embarrassed that our armed forces are forced to respond to Knight’s selfless service with a government-sanctioned pink slip.”
Knight, a trained Hebrew linguist, was re-called to active duty and served with Naval Customs Battalion Romeo in Kuwait. He told Stars & Stripes that, having ‘come out’ to his command during his previous enlistment, he saw no reason to hide his sexual orientation.
Many of his colleagues spoke to the newspaper in support of him. “The Navy tends to keep people who don’t want to be here, but Jason does,” Petty Officer 1st Class Tisha Hanson told the paper.
“I have now spent five years in the Navy, and I have loved every minute of it,” Knight said on Friday. “It is unfortunate that in our country, which prides itself on being a beacon of liberty to the world, discrimination is still alive and well, even in our own government.”
In February, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice admitted to congress that the U.S. Military has a shortage translators and language experts, even while gay and lesbian military linguists have been dismissed – like Knight – solely on the basis of their sexuality.