Recently, a Washington Post article reported that the Navy is seeking to discharge two sailors who were found asleep in bed with each other. Is the Navy kidding?
Navy Petty Officer Stephen C. Jones says what happened in his bedroom one night last month was purely innocuous: Another male sailor came by to watch "The Vampire Diaries (a little gay)," and they both dozed off in the same bed.
"That is the honest, entire story," Jones told the Washington Post.
Navy officials, however, have a different view of his bedroom behavior at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, near Charleston, S.C. Even though there is no concrete evidence the 21-year-old sailor took part in any sexual relations or that his friend was not permitted to visit, Jones has been charged with dereliction of duty. The Navy is seeking to discharge him, a move that he is contesting.
Jones has been charged with a vague transgression: "willful failure to
exhibit professional conduct" in his bachelor enlisted quarters.
It seems as though the gay ban is still in effect. Remember in December when President Obama signed legislation that will, eventually, allow gays to serve openly in the ranks for the first time? Well, I didn't realize that the law will not take effect until 60 days after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other officials formally certify to Congress that the military is ready to fully integrate gays. Which doesn't make any sense! This seems completely backwards to me. Some gay rights advocates, including me, have questioned whether commanders opposed to
the new law might try to subvert it by pressing other disciplinary
charges against people they suspect of being gay.
In the meantime, the Pentagon has effectively frozen many pending
investigations into whether individual service members are gay. A
Defense Department spokeswoman said Pentagon officials have not approved
the discharge of anyone for violating "don't ask, don't tell" since at
Military officials declined to comment on Jones's
case, citing privacy rules. In an e-mailed statement, he noted that it
is the Defense Department's policy "not to ask service members or
applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with
dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and
According to the Navy's investigative summary of the
episode, the trouble started shortly after midnight Feb. 6, when
Jones's roommate, Tyler Berube, returned from an out-of-town trip. As he
opened the door, Berube saw Jones "asleep in bed with another male
sailor," according to a statement that Berube gave to investigators.
Berube stated that both were wearing only boxer shorts but got dressed
and left after he woke them up.
Jones told investigators that he
was wearing pajamas but that neither he nor his friend, Brian McGee, had
intended to fall asleep or spend the night together. He said the
encounter was platonic. Jones said his friend often stopped by his room
to watch videos, and he noted that visiting hours lasted until 2 a.m.
that Saturday night. He and his attorney said they have repeatedly asked
the Navy for clarification.
A Navy spokesman acknowledged that
no regulation specifically prohibits sailors from falling asleep in the
same bed. The Navy spokesman explains rules do require them to "behave
professionally in the barracks" and that Capt. Thomas W. Bailey, the
commanding officer, concluded that Jones and McGee had not done so. "The
determination was that two sailors sharing the same rack was
McGee was also charged in the case. Unlike
Jones, he agreed to accept disciplinary proceedings that resulted in
docked pay but allowed him to stay in the Navy. Neither man was
officially charged with being gay. But Jones said McGee told him that
Bailey "asked him if being a homosexual was going to be an issue" if he
stayed in the Navy.
When asked by a reporter whether he was gay, Jones said, "Under the circumstances, that is my business and my business along."
this incident does sound, indeed, a bit homosexual - two men watching "The Vampire Diaries" and they fell asleep together in the same bed - I'm upset that Navy
officials are using this opportunity to get most of the gays out of the
the military before DADT is enacted. The investigative summary and
charging documents do not specify how Jones's actions constituted
unprofessional conduct. It blows my mind that people are being charged "gay." The Navy should be extremely ashamed of themselves. I mean, if
Stephen Jones wanted to get some "action" on the ship, let the fellow
men get some "action."
These rules are completely archaic and I can't wait
until DADT is enacted. Is it too much to ask that all homophobes please exit the military.
And, I have a message for Jones's roommate, Tyler Berube: Stop hating!
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Tags: brian mcgee, Capt. Thomas W. Bailey, dadt, defense department, don't ask don't tell, navy, navy petty officier stephen c. jones, officer stephen c. jones, pentagon, president barack obama, president obama, secretary robert m. gates, the vampire diaries, tyler berube, washington post