Monday, March 26, 2007
YOU ARE RECONSIDERED DISUNQUALIFIED
Jersey City resident Corey Andrew, like thousands of other job seekers, recently posted his profile on a popular career-based web site, hoping to nab some work as a copywriter. But the response he received was anything but typical. The posting on CareerBuilder.com brought several potential suitors, including an Army recruiter who replied in late February.
However, Andrew had no interest in joining the Army for a number of reasons, including the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian citizens from putting on the uniform. Andrew identifies himself as gay.
His lack of interest didn't stop him from asking the recruiter whether he was able to serve in the Army as a gay man. The question sparked a bizarre three-day exchange, escalating into a bigoted tirade from the recruiter and an official military investigation.
Using a military email address, U.S. Army recruiter Sgt. Marcia Ramode fired off an email in capital letters that " IF YOU ARE GAY WE DON'T TAKE YOU. YOU ARE CONSIDERED UNQUALIFIED."
After more prodding from Andrew on the Army's recruitment policy, the messages escalated into a bigoted tirade. For example, Ramode told Andrew that "being gay is disgusting and immoral."
In a separate email, Ramode wrote, "You must be a total idiot and so stupid to presume that you do not know what gender you are." Ramode added that Andrew should be more grateful to the military for defending his freedoms, but that as a gay man "he should leave the United States."
The insults were not only flying one way, as Andrew criticized her vocabulary and poor spelling and, after finding out she was a Native American, wrote:
"So take that to your next rain dance."
Ramode didn't limit her email attacks to insults about Andrew's sexual preferences.Andrew, who is black, criticized Ramode's word choices and poor spelling. In response, the apparently enraged sergeant said in graphic language that Andrew should "GO BACK TO AFRICA AND DO YOUR GAY VOODOO LIMBO TANGO AND WANGO DANCE AND JUMP AROUND AND PRANCE AND RUN ALL OVER THE PLACE HALF NAKED THERE."
The U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Staff Judge Advocate has referred the email exchange to Ramode's commander for "review, investigation and appropriate action," Sgt. Douglas Smith, a public affairs officer based Fort Knox, Texas, said in a statement. Under the Department of Defense's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, recruiters do not ask applicants any questions about their sexual orientation.
"If an applicant makes a statement that he or she is homosexual, the recruiter must inform the applicant in a professional manner that they are not eligible for enlistment," the statement said.
Andrew, who is also a singer-songwriter and has worked for New York's advertising giant Young & Rubicam, said he thinks the Army contacted him because the Iraq war has made it harder to recruit.
Steve Ralls, a director of communications for the Service Members Legal Defense Network, which helps victims of discrimination under the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, says Ramode should be fired.
"The recruiter's remarks were outrageous and offensive in almost every way," Ralls said. "Anti-gay harassment throughout the military is well documented but this is particularly egregious because the recruiter's language is so homophobic and racist."
Ralls is relieved the Army appears to be taking the email exchange seriously.
"The command expects its recruiters to conduct themselves in a professional manner in all dealings with potential applicants and members of the public," said Smith of the Army. "We are ambassadors for America's Army."
Posted by Gavin Elster at 10:24 PM