FOUR GAYS ARRESTED AFTER TRYING TO ENLIST IN NAVY by Roxanne Escobales

10/06/06

In a campaign to end the discrimination of homosexuals in the military, today in Brandon a group of gay and bisexual men attempted to enlist in the Navy. Instead of becoming the latest naval recruits, however, they got thrown in jail.

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With their hands cuffed behind their backs, the four men were led out of the Navy Recruitment office after getting arrested for trespassing. As part of the national Right to Serve campaign Michael Freincle organized today’s action. Since this past May, gays, lesbians and bisexuals have been trying to enlist throughout the nation and getting arrest in protest of what they say is discrimination.

This is what Michael Freincle told the recruiter in the Navy office in Brandon this morning:

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This is the answer he and the three others got.

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Once the recruiter rejected their requests to enroll based on their sexuality, the four men staged a sit-in. That’s when the sheriff’s deputies were called in.

The Right to Serve campaign says that 65-thousand military personnel are gay. Another 45-thousand Americans would like to serve in the armed forces but are barred because of their sexuality.

Samuel Hernandez was one of the four would-be recruits. He’s 18 and served in the ROTC in high school where he says he was openly discriminated against for being gay.

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Bill Ellis also got arrested today.

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Roberto Mata hosts the Voice of Pride programme on Hillsborough County’s public access TV. He was visibly upset as he watched his friends taken away in squad cars.

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Mata says he knows about discrimination being both Hispanic and gay.

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Also attending today’s action was Hillsborough County Commission transgendered candidate Jean Batronie.

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During the 1992 presidential race, Bill Clinton vowed to end the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces. What he got once in office was a compromise. Since the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was enacted in 1993, more than 11 thousand people have been discharged from the military for homosexuality. The Government Accountability Office found that the first decade alone, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell cost the military 364 million dollars to discharge and replace homosexual personnel.

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