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Re-hired gay sailor fired
U.S. Navy plays ping-pong with linguist Jason Knight

by Steve Ralls

Victimized by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ again: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the last issue of Q-Notes we reported that the U.S. Navy had re-enlisted an openly gay serviceman who had previously been dismissed under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The U.S. Navy informed Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight that it intended to fire him again under the same policy just weeks prior to completing his one-year commitment. Knight, an openly gay sailor, 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 commander and fellow sailors. Knight told his story in early May in the newspaper Stars & Stripes and was notified May 10 that he would be receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy based, in part, on his recent media interviews. Knight was scheduled to end his commitment on May 28.

“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. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ silences lesbians and gays and attempts to make them invisible. Because Knight refused invisibility, he will now be fired.”

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 commander 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]t doesn’t bother me.”

“I have now spent five years in the Navy, and I have loved every minute of it,” said Knight. “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. I am proud to be among the one million gay veterans who have answered the call to duty, and I look forward to working alongside them to topple this un-American and counter-productive law.”

According to an interview published in The Windy City Times, Knight is considering going back to college and finishing up his degree and perhaps even attending medical school. “I think that I need to do something to help the gay community,” Knight said. He is reportedly looking into volunteering with an unspecified LGBT organization.

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