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Navy’s Discharge Of Sailor Who Was Raped Shows The Damages Of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Rape is traumatic no matter who it happens to. It is about power not sex, and far too often women are the victims of rape. Of course, not all victims of rape are women. When Seaman Jose Rodriguez was drugged and raped in June 2009, that information was never suppose to go any further than the medical staff who examined him. Instead, that information was leaked and his whole ship came to know about it. Rodriguez remembers the assault through flashbacks which will, likely, haunt him throughout his life. He has said “Me being forced down, held by my neck with a couple of hands holding me down and opening my mouth while I’m yelling, ‘Help.’”

The young man went clubbing at Rich’s Nightclub in Hillcrest, CA. It was there that he was assaulted by a group of men. Rodriguez went missing for three days. Somehow another sailor learned of the assault, and told his command duty officer. “CDO reported it to the captain, he reported it to the department and that’s how everything got out,” according to Rodriguez.

Currently, the only thing that has occurred to punish the sailor who spread this private information is that he has been administratively punished, which may mean very little. According to Dan Gilleon, Rodriguez’ attorney, “What I understand is that what he’s alleging is that the hospital gave medical information to someone in his command in his chain of command that was not authorized to have this information.”

Rodriguez cannot sue the Navy for what he has been through because of federal law. The Navy insists that this incident proves that the system works because action was taken after the complaint was registered; however, they have admitted that his privacy rights were violated. Rodriguez has since been transferred off his ship. Prior to that, he suffered reduction in duty assignments and harassment from his fellow sailors.

Rodriguez, who is gay, was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the end. His career was ruined because of what he went through, and the military acted shamefully in discharging him for, basically, being raped. Male to male rape is not about sexuality, of course, any more than male to female rape is about sexuality either. Rape is about power and control, not about sex or sexuality. The trauma of rape lingers for a long time and can resurface many years later. The decision to discharge Rodriguez for being the victim and survivor of sexual assault is unconscionable. What is ultimately proves is that the DADT law is unjust, idiotic, and problematic. Rodriguez went to a gay bar, was raped, and it was, basically, assumed he was gay from those actions. That he was gay is irrelevant. What the Navy did in discharging him only added another layer of shame and trauma to a man already suffering enough from what was done to him.

The policy of DADT has been used to unfairly discharge people who were assaulted or who refused or rebuked the sexual advances of superior officers. The law has done a great deal of damage to the military through its abuses than ever gets properly discussed.

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