Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lesbian's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Protest Misfires

Julie Benson arrived at an Indiana National Guard recruiting office with a gaggle of reporters to test the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring gays and lesbians from serving in the military. Benson, a lesbian, expected to have her application rejected because of her sexual orientation. Instead, the Guard's recruiting office rejected her application because she is overweight. WRTV's Norm Cox reports:

Cameras were not permitted inside the guard office as Benson tried to enlist. Benson said she was rejected because of her sexual orientation, but a guard representative said Benson was turned away because of her weight.

"I spoke with our recruiters, and she was rejected based on physical conditioning and not meeting the height-weight policy to enter into the Indiana National Guard," said Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson.

"I was specifically told by the recruiter that I was rejected according to the policy and having outed myself because of my sexual orientation," Benson said.

Thombleson said the gender issue did not come up in the discussion. One of the recruiters later clarified that Benson brought it up herself after her application had already been rejected over the physical condition issue.

Benson said she was prepared to be arrested. Police said they won't arrest her as long as she is outside the door and isn't blocking it.
While Benson disputed the reason given by the Guard for her rejection, WTHR's report backs up the Guard's account. "Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the recruiter interview sheet where it indicates a person's height and weight is asked well before the applicant's marital status, WTHR reported." If it's any consolation to Benson, Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson, who told Cox that Benson was rejected because she was overweight, appeared significantly overweight as well.


Anonymous said...

You' think that if she was serious about joining the guard, she would have checked out the height/weight issue ahead of time. This was a ploy, and, part of a game, our litigious society plays.

Anonymous said...

Also, I should embarrassing it must be, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Gary R. Welsh said...

The height/weight restriction apparently only applies upon admission. I've noticed quite a few guardsmen who are in something less than good physical condition--sort of like a good number of police officers.

Anonymous said...

AI, I know two recruiters. They have seen several of their comrades come under investigation and, ultimately, discharges and other charges, in recent years. It was all over the newspapers--sloppy recruiting supervision, etc.

They both told me last night, that as a result of those scandals, there are multiple criteria that recruiters must (not may, but MUST) consider as they're intervieweing candidates, before the application process goes far.

Physical condition is the number-one criteria. Sexual orientation is not mentioned and not questioned.

If a prospect is obviously way out of shape, they're politely informed about the ht./wt and physical condition requirements, and encouraged to apply when they meet those guidelines.

Second most important guideline: grades in school. They'll take kids with bad grades, but not as quickly. This man's Army is somewhat selective. Why? These raw recruits are likely to end up, fairly soon, in battle or handling multi-milion dollar equipment. If you cannot read or understand basic math, there are training difficulties.

Kinda like a shuffle off to's the trap door, boom, you're gone. They're trying to be polite, but, if you're obviously overweight, you are not going to get recruited, period. Regardless how far they are from monthly quotas. And most of these quotas are small--two or three recruits a month per recruiter. When someone wants to do a cost-benefit analysis on that whole thing, lemme know. But I digress.

My recruiter friends have good jobs, good benefits, and, since the recruiting scandal, a much better definition of expectations and evaluation of their performance. They like it. Both are gay.

Neither has ever been asked about their orientation, although each is pretty open.

I get the sense that the military just wants to let orientation slip through the cracks, so to speak, and not raise it as an issue.

Militants among the LGBT community want to confront this, and I understand that desire.

But, perhaps, just perhaps, the newsworthy confrontation could've been accomplished with a more, uh, svelte (?) candidate?

Did we go into battle here with a candidate who wouldn't have been eligible regardless? If so, how stupid.

Anonymous said...

I actually thought that she did a great job at pointing out their hypocrasy. The guard that responded about the weight requirement appears to be larger than the woman that applied. Call it a misfire if you want but it made the national news and all local stations at a time when they have continually fallen behind in their recruitments.

Anonymous said...

How pathetic. Get a life.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Lori, it is a misfire. Benson knew of the weight restriction in advance. If she wanted the Guard to reject her because of her sexual orientation to demonstrate the absurdity of the law, then she should have made the effort to get in shape and lose the weight before she showed up at the recruiting office with a bunch of reporters in tow. The irony is that there is a local recruiter for the Army who is quite visible in the local gay community.

Anonymous said...

OMG! This is too funny!