Arabic Linguist Fired From Army For Being Openly Gay

3735521In spite of President Obama's declared stance against the "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy that keeps openly gay individuals out of the military, the U.S. Army on Thursday told Lt. Dan Choi he is being dismissed for publicly revealing his homosexuality.

Choi is not the first servicemember to be dismissed because of his sexuality under the Obama administration, but his dismissal stands out because of his noted skills. Choi is an infantry platoon leader in the New York National Guard who is fluent in Arabic. He graduated West Point and recently returned from Iraq.

As founding member of Knights Out, an organization for openly gay, lesbisan, bisexual, and transgender West Point alumni and their supporters, Choi advocates allowing openly gay people to serve in the military. He announced his own sexuality on MSNBC on March 19.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama specifically criticized the dismissal of openly gay servicemen who have special language skills. He also told the Advocate, a gay newsmagazine, that the don't-ask-don't-tell policy is a "counterproductive strategy."

"We're spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need," he said in an interview with the magazine. "That doesn't make us more safe."

Since the don't-ask-don't-tell policy was implemented during the Clinton administration, around 12,500 servicemembers have been dismissed because of their sexuality.

The White House also recently came under fire from liberal bloggers who noted a change in the language addressing the issue on Whitehouse.gov. The site initially said Mr. Obama supported "repealing" don't-ask-don't-tell, but it later said the president supported "changing" the policy "in a sensible way." After taking heat on the matter, the White House changed the wording on Whitehouse.gov once again to say the president "supports repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also been noncomittal about repealing the policy. While touring war colleges in April, Gates said he did not yet have a position on whether gay troops should be open about their sexuality.

Mr. Obama has also come under pressure from gay advocates to appoint an openly gay person to the Supreme Court.

Below is Choi's March 19 appearance on MSNBC:

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