The number of
Arabic translators dismissed from the U.S. military
due to their sexual orientation dropped
dramatically in 2004, according to Pentagon data
Only one gay Arabic language speaker was
discharged this year, and no Farsi speakers were let
go. In contrast, between 1993 and 2003, 54 Arabic and
nine Farsi speakers were dismissed under the military's
"don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The reason for the decrease in 2004 is unclear.
"The military may be firing fewer Arabic
experts for homosexuality to avoid public
embarrassment during a time of dire shortages of Arabic
linguists," said Nathaniel Frank, senior
research fellow at the Center for the Study of Sexual
Minorities in the Military in Santa Barbara, Calif.
The military has come under intense criticism
during the past few years for releasing
any translators--even the gay and lesbian ones,
who are required to remain in the closet under "don't
ask, don't tell." There's a shortage of Arabic
speakers who are crucial when it comes to intercepting
messages between terrorist organizations.
The latest data was requested by the center and
Rep. Marty Meehan. The Massachusetts Democrat is
sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act,
which seeks to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and replace it
with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation. He recently announced that 100
cosponsors on Capitol Hill have signed on to the bill.
According to Meehan, taxpayers spend more than
$20 million a year enforcing "don't ask, don't tell."
Meanwhile, the cost to taxpayers for recruitment
and training to replace discharged gay and lesbian
soldiers is at least $200 million and could be significantly
higher. (Neal Broverman, Advocate.com)