Don’t Ask, Don’t... Fall Asleep Watching TV?
A sailor says he’s being drummed out of the Navy for an innocent incident in which he and a friend fell asleep on the same bed while watching television, CNN reported on March 5. A group that supports GLBT servicemembers says that the young petty officer is being targeted for homophobic reasons, but the Navy won’t accuse him of being gay because of the current situation with "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," which has been legally repealed, but is still in effect for the time being.
Stephen Jones, 21, who has been studying at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina, says that he and another petty officer, Bryan McGee, were simply watching TV when they fell asleep. Jones also says that McGee was under the covers, while he was on top, and notes that they were both wearing undergarments. Jones also says that there was no sort of sexual contact between the men.
But the sight of the two asleep on the same bed was enough to make Jones’ roommate "uncomfortable," the CNN article said. The roommate arranged for different quarters the next day and reported Jones. The officer in charge of the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command then set about punishing both Jones and McGee, subjecting them to a "Captain’s Mast," which is a non-court martial means of disciplining members of the Navy. McGee accepted the punishment, but Jones refused, insisting that he had done nothing to violate regulations.
The Navy disagrees.
"It is a violation of the Command Instruction for sailors to act unprofessionally in the barracks. It is considered unprofessional conduct to share the same bed in Navy barracks," a spokesperson for the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command told the press.
When Jones refused the Captain’s Mast, the Navy started the process of discharging him. Attorney Greg Myers, who is representing Jones, says that his client has done nothing to warrant being tossed out of the service.
"In the end, Jones was charged with falling asleep while watching a show on his computer while on his bed over the covers where another man under the covers was also sleeping," Myers said. "This is not a crime and never will be as there was and is no duty to avoid such a circumstance as a matter of laws."
Moreover, Myers says, the Navy is intent on throwing Jones out because of a perception that he might be gay.
Although Congress repealed "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," the 1993 law that bars openly gay and lesbian patriots from serving in uniform, on Dec. 18, 2010, the law is still in effect until the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Secretary certify that the time is right to stop enforcing the law’s provisions.
Even though the law is still in effect, there have been no dismissals of soldiers on the basis of DADT since last autumn, the CNN article noted. But that doesn’t mean that gay troops--or troops suspected of being gay--are not target for dismissal anyway, with reasons other than homosexuality being given.