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Dan Choi, Communications Director
WEST POINT, NY – 03.25.09
A courageous group of America’s best and brightest are once again answering their call to duty, honor, and country: by coming out of the closet.
“Knights Out,” an association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) West Point Alumni and their supporters emerged from anonymity today to support thousands of LGBT Soldiers currently serving in the armed forces, and to educate the current military leadership on the importance of accepting and honoring the sacrifices and selfless service of their LGBT soldiers and officers.
As congress approaches the decision to allow LGBT military personnel to serve openly, the group is prepared to serve as a critical support and advocacy group for the full acceptance of gay service members, particularly at West Point.
By publicly outing themselves, the 38 LGBT West Point Alumni stand to be counted. They established an open forum for discussion and education between all West Pointers and continue to help West Point remain the world’s premier leadership institution by effectively adapting to the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Members will participate in West Point Diversity Leadership Conference, April 2-4.
One of the group’s senior members is Colonel (Retired) Stewart Bornhoft, West Point class of 1969 and Vietnam combat commander, who welcomed the formation of Knights Out: “All West Pointers, regardless of their own sexual orientation, lead soldiers who freely acknowledge their diverse orientations. When open service is enacted, the words of the Cadet Prayer - ‘…never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won’ – will once again be our guidepost.”
On the 207th anniversary of the founding of West Point, Knights Out brings over 289 combined years of Active Duty service among its members to assist West Point and its Association of Graduates in educating future leaders. Knights Out is led by a board of LGBT West Point graduates who have come out of the closet. Active Duty combat commanders currently in Iraq and Afghanistan form a larger group of 340 service academy graduates who are unable to come out of the closet due to the current law.
Under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, gay and lesbian service members are allowed to serve in the United States armed forces, but are not permitted to tell coworkers their sexual orientation, living a secret life in exchange for the opportunity to serve. Because West Point cadets live by the Honor Code, that they “will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do,” LGBT cadets and graduates are frequently forced to compromise their integrity. This policy undermines the Army Values of Honor, Integrity, and Respect, resulting in the premature resignation of many talented service members and West Point graduates.
KNIGHTS OUT FACT SHEET:
OVERTURN OF DADT- "The Army has received its Warning Order that the overturn of DADT is imminent, based on reports that President Obama has begun consulting his top defense advisers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, on how to lift a ban on gays serving openly in the military" stated Paul Morris, Knight's Out co-founder.
"Warning Orders are issued to help generals and staff plan for actions for before they are ordered. President Obama has made it clear he intends to review and overturn DADT and end the wasteful policy which the country has been burdened with for last 16 years. Now is the time for the Army and its oldest military academy to plan for this mission, and Knights Out stands ready to assist."
HELP FROM SISTER ACADEMIES:
Steve Clark Hall, USNA ’75 has helped tremendously with the founding of Knights Out. He was recently recognized as the group’s first “honorary knight” for his inspiration and assistance. Hall is a member of USNA Out and is finalizing his documentary film for early summer release, “Out of Annapolis.” Organizing members of ‘USNA Out’ and ‘USAFA BlueAlliance,’ were instrumental in assisting the Knights Out board. ‘USNA Out’ was formed in 2003 and Blue-Alliance in 2007. All are members of the overarching Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Alumni (SAGALA) network, with over 340 members, formed in 1994.