Lemoore Sailor Speaks–Out against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Lemoore Sailor Speaks–Out against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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By Norma Yuriar

Leemore, Calif.  (KMPH News) — A valley sailor, stationed at U.S. Naval Air Station Lemoore, is speaking out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Roughly 13,000 service members have left the military because of the law enacted in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

Petty Officer –  2nd Class Derek Morado is looking at March 1st as his last day in uniform.

"It's upsetting, I think of myself as a good sailor," Morado said.  "I wanted to stay and now I can't because of this, it's so petty."

On Tuesday, The nation's top two defense officials called for an end to the 16–year–old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, a major step toward allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the U.S. military for the first time.

"It's not soon enough to save me," Morado said.  "At least others will have the opportunity to continue service confidently."

Morado enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17.

More than six years later — his military commitment is about the end, but not by choice.

"In November I was told I was going to be administratively separated under the terms of "Don't Ask, Don't tell"... due to what they find is enough evidence to separate me based on a social networking website called My Space," Morado said.

Because Morado is still serving, he can not confirm nor deny if he's gay, doing so could jeopardize the possibility of an honorable discharge, he said.

"Here I am, never have gotten in trouble for anything and all of a sudden my career has ended over something that has nothing to do with my career," the sailor said.  "To me it feels like a slap in the face."

Crystal Ballard of Hanford shares his frustration.

"Everybody who gets discharged for something like this... its something that they live with for the rest of their lives," Ballard said.

She was discharged from the United States Marine Corps in 2002.

"Technically, I was discharged for misconduct; I went off on my own little limb because I didn't want to be discharged for homosexuality.  I wanted to be discharged for anything but that.  I went in at 17–years old, I had not come out to my family yet," Ballard said.  "I come from a very respectful family and I didn't want them to know."

The former Marine and the sailor from Lemoore say they hope the freedoms they fought to defend will soon be extended to them.

"I hope that those that want to get back in can get back in, depends on how long [the policy repeal] takes I might try to get back in if the option is there," Morado said.

 

REPORTER CAN BE REACHED AT NYURIAR@KMPH.COM OR (559) 453-8850

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