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Sailor discharged under DADT is reinstated

WASHINGTON -- Petty Officer 2nd Class Jase Daniels, discharged from the U.S. Navy in April 2005 and again in March 2007 because of the military's former "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy, has been reinstated and will return to active as a linguist, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) says.

Daniels was sworn in today.

"Today, I took an oath, and affirmed to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. I am humbled as I am reinstated to the job I love and by the enormous support I have received on this momentous day. I look forward to returning to the Defense Language Institute and ultimately, my career in the military,” said Daniels, who changed his name from Jason Knight.

SLDN, which advocated for the repeal of DADT and continues to provide legal assistance to LGBT servicemembers, lauded the action.

“The reinstatement of Petty Officer Daniels into the United States Navy underscores that all qualified and needed service members are now officially welcomed back into the ranks," SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said. "The new policy and regulations in this post-repeal era make this historic occasion possible. We continue to work with our clients and the services to facilitate more reinstatements and help process applications for those discharged under DADT, who wish to serve their country again, whether it be on active duty, in the reserves, or in the guard."

M. Andrew Woodmansee, an attorney at Morrison & Foerster, represented Daniels' in the case, and released the following statement:

"This is a great day for Petty Officer Daniels. This also is a great day for the United States military. All qualified American men and women who want serve their country in the armed forces are now welcome to do so without regard to their sexual orientation. When Jase decided to sue the Navy in 2010 seeking a court order reinstating him on active duty, repeal of ‘Don't Ask Don't Tell’ was uncertain. At the end of the day, a court order was not necessary in his case. I hope this is true for many others and that Jase is just one of many brave gay and lesbian former service members who will be quickly welcomed back into the services."

Daniels is one of the plaintiffs in a case, Almy v. U.S., filed by SLDN and Morrison & Foerster in December 2010 that challenges the constitutionality of the three plaintiffs’ discharges under DADT and seeks their reinstatement to active duty. Sarvis said resolutions for the other plaintiffs, former Air Force Major Mike Almy and former Air Force Staff Sergeant Anthony Loverde, are expected soon.

Daniels, now 29, entered the military five months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and served his first tour of duty with the Ceremonial Guard in Washington, D.C., where he represented the U.S. at official White House ceremonies and during state and military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. From his post at Arlington, he watched the Pentagon burn that day, an experience he says reinforced his desire to serve.

He completed Hebrew linguist training and was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia, where he came to terms with his sexual orientation and outed himself to his commander.

“Keeping the Navy’s core values of honesty and integrity – and very much naïve to the severity of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – I provided my commander with a written statement, which resulted in the start of discharge proceedings,” said Daniels, who was discharged in 2005.

But, in 2006, Daniels received a letter recalling him to service and served in Kuwait for a year with the U.S. Navy Customs Battalion Romeo. Despite the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in effect, he served for a year before he was discharged a second time under the law.