Friday, June 08, 2007
The United States Navy has again assigned an openly gay sailor to duty in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR), according to paperwork obtained by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Former Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight, a Hebrew linguist recently deployed to Kuwait, has been placed on IRR duty until April 2009, despite publicly 'coming out' in national media outlets and being told he would receive a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" dismissal. Knight's dismissal form, also called a DD-214, again lists his reason for dismissal as 'Completion of Service,' and places him in the IRR. The classification allows him to again be called to active duty, as he was in 2006 after completing a four-year enlistment in the Navy. Knight has now served openly during two tours with the Navy, with the support of his command and colleagues. "It's a very pleasant, and unexpected, surprise to learn that the Navy so values Jason's service that they have again assigned him to the Individual Ready Reserves, despite his very public advocacy as an openly gay man," Steve Ralls, director of communications for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), told the military newspaper Stars & Stripes in a statement. "There are clearly many people inside the armed forces who couldn't care less about sexual orientation. In fact, our national security would be far better served if more commands elected to so visibly support their gay troops.The Navy has welcomed Jason Knight not once, not twice, but now a third time, and he has always answered the call to duty. His story proves there is no room to question the patriotism, dedication and commitment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans." Knight captured national attention in May when he revealed, also in Stars & Stripes, that he accepted a call-back to active duty and deployed to the Middle East, where he served openly, despite the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel. Knight had also been out to his first Navy command. That command also dismissed Knight for 'completion of service,' despite knowing about his sexual orientation, and also assigned him to the IRR. That assignment led to his second tour in the Navy. "I have been nothing but proud of my service in the Navy, and I'm ready to serve in the Individual Ready Reserves and to return to active duty if called," Knight said. "I was expecting to be dismissed under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but am ready, willing and able to continue my service to the Navy if I am needed. My sexual orientation has never been an issue for my command or my colleagues; it should not be an issue for my country, either." Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance.