The 18-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay military service ends next week, but it appears that some soldiers are still struggling with discrimination.
One soldier, Capt. Alberto Perez-Dejesus, is waging a campaign against what he says is the military’s discrimination against him. A month after he launched a petition on change.org, he’s racked up 2,000 signatures.
To be fair to the Army, we do not know whether there is any truth to Perez-Dejesus’s allegations–that he his being forced to retire because he is gay. He says his case is now under investigation by the Joint Staff Inspector General.
“I am Captain Perez and I’m telling you that, from my experience, gay discrimination is still alive and kicking in the military regardless of repeal,” he writes. “People who were opposed to repeal are now finding creative ways to FIRE gay soldiers and those suspected of being gay. This must stop.”
He alleges he is being forced out for non-promotion after 19 years of service and deployments to Kuwait, Iraq, and Korea. He was repeatedly passed over, he says, due to his sexual orientation. He claims that he also may be forced to quit psychology school, where he is studying to become a behavioral therapist.
Though he never came out, he says, the suspicion that he was gay was enough. His personnel file contains largely positive reviews, he says, but his security clearance was not renewed. He attributes this and his lack of promotion to a “hidden document,” which he says included negative comments about him.
“The comments strongly suggested that I was suspected of being gay and therefore I had no integrity,” he writes. “It also had many other false and unprofessional comments that could have been accessed by any promotion board member at any time. This is what we call in the military ‘poisoning a record’ to stunt career progression. The ‘dog whistle’ for promotion board members was my expired security clearance. The suggestion that I may be gay definitely raised a few of their eye brows and automatically disqualified me from promotion.”
Perez-Dejesus claims funding was withdrawn for his schooling just as he was to begin an internship at Tripler Army Medical Center, which means he may gave to drop out.
He claims when he complained to the Army’s inspector general, he received a retaliatory letter in his personnel file.