Gay Vet Wants to Serve Openly
A gay Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq has petitioned to stay in despite having gone public with his sexuality.
An Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq wants a chance to remain in the military as an openly gay soldier, a desire that’s bringing him into conflict with the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, says he has not encountered trouble from fellow soldiers and would like to stay if not for the policy that permits gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret. “I know a ton of gay men that would be more than willing to stay in the Army if they could just be open,” Stout said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But if we have to stay here and hide our lives all the time, it’s just not worth it.”
Stout, of Utica, Ohio, was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May.
Scout may well be the Jackie Robinson of his cause. It’s rather difficult to come up with a compelling reason to keep a soldier who was wounded in battle and has the respect of his peers out of the military on the grounds that it would undermine unit morale. Especially at a time when the Army is desperate to recruit qualified soldiers.
I would note, though, that Scout knew what the rules were–they’re hardly secret. He could certainly have kept his homosexuality private had remaining a soldier been his top priority. Certainly, others have.