An Army base in
Missouri used the "don't ask, don't tell" policy to
kick out more gay and lesbian soldiers than any other
military installation last year, followed by an Army
base on the Kentucky-Tennessee border and a naval base
Sixty people were
dismissed last year from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.,
according to Defense Department documents shared with the
Associated Press by the Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network. That was up from 40 discharges under the
policy from the training facility in 2004.
advises military personnel on the antigay policy, obtained
the information through a Freedom of Information Act
request. Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
confirmed that the Defense Department provided the
information to the advocacy group.
second-highest number of discharges were at Fort Campbell, a
sprawling Army base on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.
The 49 people dismissed there, up from 19 in 2004,
also represented the single-biggest increase in
discharges anywhere. It was at Fort Campbell where a
soldier, Pfc. Barry Winchell, was bludgeoned to death
in 1999 by a fellow soldier who believed Winchell was
gay. Gay discharges from the base went up sharply on
the heels of that murder but later subsided.
"The numbers at
Fort Campbell remain disturbing because of the history
there," said C. Dixon Osburn, SLDN executive director.
"The discharge numbers had gone significantly down. This
seems to be a rebound. It's not clear why."
A spokeswoman for
the base declined to comment on the statistics. The
Pentagon has said 726 military members were discharged under
the policy last year, up 11% from the year before, but
did not publicly release base-specific information.
The data provided
to the legal advocacy group showed that the Norfolk,
Va., naval base had the third-highest number of gay
dismissals in 2005, with 35 people leaving under the
policy. Fort Benning Army base in Georgia was next,
with 31 discharges.
policy, which went into effect in 1994 following passage of
congressional legislation, prohibits the military from
inquiring about the sex lives of service members but
requires those who openly acknowledge being gay to be
discharged. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon
has given any indication of dropping their long-standing
support for the policy.
Pentagon spokeswoman, said it is the Defense Department's
view that congressional action would be needed to change the
policy. A bill to repeal the policy and allow gays to
serve openly has been introduced in the House, but no
such measure has been introduced in the Senate.
Recupero, an internist and pediatrician discharged under the
policy last year, said she is confident it will eventually
be repealed. "It's going to be overturned because
people are needed, and it's not going to matter who
they're sleeping with," she said. "We're in a
situation of high alert and war."
discharged last year after an investigation that lasted
about five years. She was to be stationed at Fort Drum,
N.Y., after undergoing medical training but never
served there, having been put on leave during the
inquiry. Recupero says she regrets the way things turned
out. "I'm an honorable person," she said. "I made a
commitment to fulfill my duty and I never got to do that,
and I kind of feel lousy about this." (AP)