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JIC Post:By Tom MusbachPlanet Out NetworkDespite previous Pentagon denials, the U.S. military has a published personnel policy that halts the discharge of gay and lesbian soldiers entering active duty, scholars announced on Tuesday.The regulation was found in a 1999 "Reserve Component Unit Commander's Handbook" and is still in effect, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM).According to the document, if a discharge for homosexual conduct is requested "prior to the unit's receipt of alert notification, discharge isn't authorized. Member will enter AD [active duty] with the unit."Researchers from the CSSMM, a think tank at the University of California at Santa Barbara, discovered the document while doing research for the ABC news program "Nightline."Advocates for gays in the military say the regulation confirms a trend they've seen for years: The military sends known gay soldiers into combat during times of war, and then discharges them once the conflict ends. The pattern runs counter to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which states that gay and lesbian personnel must be discharged whether or not the country is at war.Since Sept. 11, 2001, discharges under "don't ask, don't tell" have decreased.The Pentagon has denied, however, that it is easing up on gay discharges because of U.S. conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last month Jeff Howe, an Army soldier who served two recent tours in Iraq, was discharged after he was outed by an online personal ad. At least 10 other service members have faced similar discharge proceedings for online ads this year, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).Major Susan Idziak, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said she was unfamiliar with the 1999 document and could not comment on it in time for this story's deadline.Steve Ralls, spokesman for the SLDN, said the discharges of gay and lesbian soldiers on active deployment shows that the 1999 directive is not being enforced.However, the discovery of the 1999 document, he said, exposes a major flaw in the military's rationale that gay and lesbian personnel would hinder the cohesive nature that is essential to a military unit."I think it's clear that there are some in the military who believe that gay and lesbian service members do their jobs well, and that undercuts the 'cohesion' argument," Ralls told the PlanetOut Network. "If [gays and lesbians] wouldn't undercut cohesion during a time of conflict, they wouldn't during peacetime, either."
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