of arrest served to curtail a protest against the U.S.
military's policy on gay soldiers. Nichole Rawls, 27, tried
to enlist at an Army recruiting office in northwest
Norman, Okla., on Wednesday, but a police officer
who arrived there told Rawls and others participating
in the demonstration that they could be arrested if they
stayed at the office after being asked to leave.
"I am aware of the Army's 'don't ask, don't
tell' policy, but I don't agree with it. I want to
serve my country, but I am not willing to hide who I
am in order to do so," said Rawls, a Shawnee resident who is
Rawls said she and her supporters chose the
Norman recruiting station because they thought
University of Oklahoma students might join a planned
protest. "We were treated with respect, but I was saddened
that the recruitment officer didn't know about the
Military Readiness Enhancement Bill, a bill now in
Congress," said supporter Pamela Disel, also of
Shawnee. If approved, the measure would replace the present
"don't ask, don't tell" policy with one of nondiscrimination.
Rawls's enlistment attempt was part of the Right
to Serve campaign, organized by Soulforce, a national
youth organization supporting gay rights. People in
about 30 cities are participating in the campaign.
Rawls said her attempt to enlist was more than a protest of
the current military policy. Her grandfather, Clifford
L. Roberts of Shawnee, was a Green Beret and a member
of the Golden Knights elite parachute team. He served
five tours of duty in Vietnam. "It's a family thing. I
wanted to follow in his footsteps," Rawls said.
Rawls's grandmother, Jacqueline Roberts of
Shawnee, accompanied her granddaughter to the Norman
office. Roberts said her husband was "very supportive"
of Rawls's desire to join the military but died last
April before he could help her in the current campaign. (AP)