Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Hits Women Much More,
WASHINGTON — The Army and Air Force discharged a disproportionate number of women in 2007 under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, according to Pentagon statistics gathered by an advocacy group. While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women.
The information was gathered under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a policy advocacy organization.
“Women make up 15 percent of the armed forces, so to find they represent nearly 50 percent of Army and Air Force discharges under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is shocking,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the organization’s executive director. “Women in particular have been caught in the crosshairs of this counterproductive law.”
The organization compiled gender statistics on the discharges, but conducted no formal set of interviews and thus could offer no verifiable reason for the increase in women separated from the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The Pentagon in recent days released overall numbers of discharges under the policy for 2007, without a breakdown by gender.
Over all, the number of gay men and lesbians discharged from the military in 2007 rose to 627 from 612 a year before, according to Pentagon statistics. Those figures represent a drop of about 50 percent from a peak in 2001, before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite stress on the armed forces from two wars, the Pentagon is not advocating a change in policy, saying it is up to Congress to decide whether the law should be altered or repealed.