Army Dismisses Gay Arab Linguist

Or, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell–in Any Language.”

AP has the story of Bleu Copas, a gay former soldier who was dismissed even though he seemingly complied with the terms of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified.

Bleu Copas, 30, told The Associated Press he is gay, but said he was “outed” by a stream of anonymous e-mails to his superiors in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “I knew the policy going in,” Copas said in an interview on the campus of East Tennessee State University, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and working as a student adviser. “I knew it was going to be difficult.”

An eight-month Army investigation culminated in Copas’ honorable discharge on January 30 — less than four years after he enlisted, he said, out of a post-September 11 sense of duty to his country.

Michael Demmons quips, “It’s a good thing we don’t need Arabic linguists then!”

Indeed. Whatever one’s thoughts on the suitability of homosexuals for infantry duty, it’s rather difficult to fathom the argument for tossing out a linguist–let alone a critical Arab linguist–on the basis of finding out he’s gay via anonymous emails.

It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes; there probably aren’t a lot of translators there, either. Further, it’s rather clear his fellow All-American paratroops had no clue he was gay; it’s unlikely, therefore, that he was harming the esprit de corps. Conversely, the potential loss of life because there’s nobody around to translate in a critical situation could be quite bad for morale.

FILED UNDER: LGBTQ Issues, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. vnjagvet says:

    I generally support the military, and often try to think of arguments which may support seemingly foolish actions.

    I can’t think of anything supporting this one.

    This sounds like a self-inflicted wound.

  2. djneylon says:

    “I knew the policy going in”….but I decided to live by my rules instead of theirs… unfortunately, the military needs people who live by the military’s rules … not whatever rules they choose…

  3. Anderson says:

    I’d say the Army waived its right to dismiss the guy once they knew his name was “Bleu” but took him anyway.

    (N.b. that I would not say that where Mr. Copas could hear me, because he looks like a big, tough dude.)

    The whole “no gays” policy is stupid of course, but we knew that already.

  4. just me says:

    Maybe at one time openly gay military members would have been a problem, but I think this is one policy that needs to go.

    Any behavior the military would be concerned about can easily be dealt with in the UCMJ.

    I suspect it is the people in congress and maybe the aging generals that see a problem where none is likely to exist.

  5. Eric J says:

    I hope he’s already had a recruitment call from the NSA.

  6. Jim Henley says:

    He might have included subliminal gay messages in his translated documents. Pretty soon the entire Pentagon is gay and then . . . actually, I can’t figure out the next part.

    But what’s up with the math? Resigned four months into his enlistment after an eight month investigation?

  7. TJ Jackson says:

    Homosexuals have never been a security threat to any country, just ask Burgess and McLean.

  8. DC Loser says:

    As compared to hetherosexuals?

  9. LJD says:

    His lisp was interfering with accurate translation, and the arabs with which he conversed took offense to his limp-wristed technique. 🙂

  10. Lisa says:

    If Copas, stops and thinks about it the Army did the best thing possible for him. He can now go become a contractor for DOD and make 6 times more money.

  11. Jim Henley says:

    Homosexuals have never been a security threat to any country, just ask Burgess and McLean.

    Or J.Edgar Hoover!

  12. legion says:

    Speaking of self-inflicted wounds, I love this part of the article:

    Shortly after Copas was appointed to the 82nd Airborne’s highly visible All-American Chorus last May, the first e-mail came to the chorus director.

    “The director brought everyone into the hallway and told us about this e-mail they had just received and blatantly asked, ‘Which one of you are gay?'” Copas said.

    Copas later complained to the director and his platoon sergeant, saying the questions violated “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    “They said they would watch it in the future,” Copas said. “And they said, even specifically then, ‘Well, you are not gay are you?’ And I said, ‘no.'”

    If he’d pushed for a court martial rather than an administrative procedure, he’d probably have a fighting chance. It’d take years tho, and he’s probably much better off hitting the civilian world instead.

  13. anjin-san says:

    What do you expect, given the endless stream of homophobia emitted by the GOP?