Gay activists offer Marine Corps shortage solution

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

As the Marine Corps’ dismissal of lesbian and gay troops increases, President George W Bush has authorised an involuntary recall of Marine Corps Individual Ready Reservists “because there are not enough volunteers returning for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq,” according to a CNN report.

Marine Colonel Guy Stratton, head of the manpower mobilisation section, estimated there is a shortfall of about 1,200 Marines needed to fill positions in upcoming deployments, The Associated Press reports.

Some of the military needs, he said, include engineers, intelligence, military police and communications.

But lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates attribute the shortage to the dismissal of skilled personnel under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the federal policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving in the military.

More than 11,000 men and women have been dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since the law was implemented. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 800 of those had skills deemed “critical” by the Department of Defence, including linguistic training, medical skills and expertise in combat engineering.

A report released in May from Servicemembers Legal Defence Network (SLDN) shows that the Corps’ dismissal of service members under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian and gay personnel has increased for the first time since 2001.

Since 1993, the Marine Corps has dismissed 953 men and women under the law, the SLDN report shows.

“If President Bush is truly interested in boosting the manpower of our services, he should immediately endorse repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” said C Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defence Network (SLDN.)

“Every day, our armed forces lose at least two people because of the ban on open service. Those men and women are ready, willing and able to serve, but are prohibited from doing so because of an outdated law that has no useful purpose.”

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