Lesbians Bear Brunt of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Women discharged more often than men for homosexuality
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2008 8:08 AM CDT
In this May 22, file photo, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, left, and President Bush listen to the National Anthem during the 82nd Airborne Division Review at Fort Bragg, N.C.   (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
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(Newser) – Debates about gays in the military have focused on men, but new information reveals that lesbians have faced much greater "don't ask, don't tell" challenges. Although women make up only 15% of Army and Air Force personnel, nearly half of the soldiers and airmen discharged for open homosexuality were women. Both the military and gay rights groups are uncertain of what causes the disparity.

The Times reports that the number of gay men and lesbians discharged rose last year to 627, despite massive personnel pressure from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The "don't ask, don't tell" compromise allows gay men and lesbians—who currently make up about 65,000 troops—to serve so long as they keep their sexuality a secret.