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MILITARY CONTINUES TO DISCHARGE SERVICE MEMBERS ‘OUTED’ ONLINE

SLDN REPORTS AT LEAST 10 ONLINE OUTINGS SINCE JANUARY;
GROUP ISSUES ADVICE ON ‘DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL’ AND THE INTERNET

WASHINGTON, DC – The military continues to discharge service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” who are ‘outed’ via online profiles, the internet service  provider Gay.com/PlanetOut.com first reported today.  Since January, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has assisted ten service members facing discharge for online profiles.  The online outing cases represent 25% of the organization’s total outings so far in 2005.

SLDN first reported in May 2004 that service members were being targeted for online profiles.  The ten additional cases reported today include a Farsi linguist, a doctor, an intelligence analyst and a communications officer.  Three of the ten have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, including Jeff Howe, an Army artilleryman who served two tours of duty in Iraq before being outed by a profile posted at Connexion.org, an online LGBT community site.

SLDN has partnered with Gay.com/PlanetOut.com and Connexion.org to release precautions for service members using online sites.  Service members should not, the organization warns, access such sites using a military computer, post photos in online profiles, or use terminology or information which may reveal that the poster is a service member.  “Being identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual in an online profile is ‘telling,’” said SLDN executive director C. Dixon Osburn.  “Many service members assume they are safe by using online sites, but that unfortunately is not true.  Being out to anyone, at anytime, and anywhere – including online – can mean the end of a military career.”

“I thought I was fine (using online services),” Howe said.  “I didn’t realize my personal ad was a violation of the policy.”  He went on to say that LGBT service members, and those considering a career in the military, “should contact SLDN (for legal counsel).”

Guidelines for service members using online sites are posted at www.sldn.org and on the Gay.com, PlanetOut.com and Connexion.org web sites.  Service members with questions regarding online sites should also contact SLDN for free, confidential legal counseling at legal@sldn.org, or by phone at (202) 328-FAIR.


 

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