Gay Vets Sue for Reinstatement
December 6, 2004
By Michael J. Meade 365Gay.com Boston Bureau
lesbian and gay veterans Monday morning filed suit in Federal Court in Boston
seeking reinstatement in the Armed Forces.
All 12 had been discharged under the military’s
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays in the military. Each served
during the current war on terror. Their case could eventually reach the United
States Supreme Court.
The veterans are represented by the Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network. They all served honorably in the United States Army, Navy,
Air Force and Coast Guard, C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of SLDN noted.
Together, they have served more than sixty-five years in
the armed forces. Three have served in direct support of operations in the
Middle East. Among them, they have earned more than five dozen awards, medals
“My grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge in
WWII,” said former LTJG Jen Kopfstein, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“I was on a ship which went out to sea on September 11, 2001, to defend the
coast of California at a time when none of us knew if further attacks were
imminent. I made a commitment to the Navy when I joined. I deserve the
opportunity to live up to my commitment, and serve out the rest of my
obligated time with honor, as I served the first part.”
Another of the plaintiffs, Justin Peacock, a former Coast
Guard boatswain’s mate, was kicked out of the service after someone reported
he was seen holding hands with another man.
Former Army Sergeant First Class Stacy Vasquez served
nearly ten years as an Army paralegal and was one of the top recruiters in the
entire Army. Vasquez was discharged after being outed by a fellow service
member’s wife. Air Force Captain Monica Hill, a physician, was discharged
after requesting a leave of absence to care for her terminally ill partner of
14 years, who died on September 11, 2001.
Today’s lawsuit asserts that “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell’ punishes gay, lesbian and bisexual service members . . . for their
sexual orientation and for their private, constitutionally protected conduct.
As a result, it has denied and continues to deny them several Constitutional
rights, including the right of privacy, equal protection of the law, and
freedom of speech.”
Other courts have upheld the 11-year-old policy, but
Osburn said those decisions came prior to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that
struck down the Texas sodomy law declaring gays and lesbians have a right to
due process under the Constitution. “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ creates
an unacceptable and unconstitutional second class citizenship for our men and
women in uniform,” said Osburn. “Forcing gays into a federally imposed
closet and firing them for telling the truth is blatantly wrong. This law robs
our nation of the talents and skills of thousands at a time when we can
ill-afford to lose a single service member in the war on terrorism.”
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