Gay Navy Man Faces Discharge
Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011Craig Kohlruss
Morado said he's heard that no one has been discharged from the military for being gay since October. He hopes not to be the first since then, because he wants to make the Navy his career. "It's all I really know," he said. "I've done it since high school. I just want to keep doing it." A gay rights group has publicized Morado's case, putting out a call for signatures from supporters that he can take to today's hearing.
"At least they'll know people are watching and he has supporters in the community who won't let it just happen," said Robin McGehee of Fresno, a director of GetEQUAL. "The fact that the Navy is trying to slide one more discharge in under the wire is disgusting, and must be called out for what it is -- blatant discrimination and bullying."
Morado said Wednesday he knew he had to hide his homosexuality when he enlisted in 2003 after graduating from a Sacramento high school. But his sexual orientation became public after he posted a photo of himself on his MySpace page kissing another man.
"He was just a friend, not a romantic interest," Morado said.
A senior enlisted man in his ordnance and weapons unit turned him in, he said, and an admiral signed off on discharge proceedings. Once that happens, Morado said, "they have to go through with it."
However, no members of the Navy will be discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" without approval of the secretary of the Navy, Lt. Myers Vasquez, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said Wednesday.
Morado said that after he was outed, his job duties changed from making bombs to managing barracks.
Other sailors have told him they are on his side, he said.
"All I've gotten is support and shock that this is happening -- nothing negative," Morado said. Morado said the hearing will be overseen by an administrative board of two officers and a senior petty officer.
He said he is being represented by a Navy lawyer.
And now the rest of the story...
Gay Sailor Says Panel Recommends No Discharge
Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011
A gay sailor at Lemoore Naval Air Station said today that a three-man panel voted to let him stay in the Navy instead of being recommended for discharge under the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.
Derek Morado, 26, who is originally from Sacramento, said the hearing lasted several hours.
"I'm ecstatic," Morado said afterward.
He said that his lawyer told the panel that the upcoming repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell as mandated by law made it unnecessary for him to be ordered to leave the Navy.
The panel of two officers and one senior petty officer voted unanimously in his favor after meeting behind closed doors for 25 minutes. He said the decision will be reviewed by the Navy Personnel Command to make sure the paperwork was done correctly, and that he expects no problems will be found.
I'm sure this young sailor will be able to sleep well tonight... I was proud to be one of the signers of the petition he took to his hearing today. Although the repeal is yet to be certified and actually take effect, it looks as though the nightmare of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is over.