News (USA)

Navy halts discharge of suspected gay sailor targeted for ‘unprofessional conduct’

Navy halts discharge of suspected gay sailor targeted for ‘unprofessional conduct’
Stephen Jones

The U.S. Navy has halted discharge proceedings against a naval officer who was found asleep in his bed next to a male colleague, according to Servicemembers United, a gay and lesbian service members’ advocacy group.

Petty Officer Stephen C. Jones, who is stationed at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, S.C., was undergoing separation from the Navy for what his civilian lawyer and Servicemembers United alleged were trumped up charges based on the command’s suspicion that Jones might be gay.

According to Jones, his roommate returned from a trip earlier this year to find Jones asleep in his bed with another male sailor in their Navy barracks. Jones maintained that his friend, Brian McGee, had stopped by to watch a movie, and that they had fallen asleep on the same bed.

Jones said the encounter was platonic.

But after an investigation, the Navy charged the 21-year-old petty officer with “Dereliction Of Duty” and instituted discharge proceedings against him when he refused to accept a non-judicial punishment for “unprofessional conduct.”

“The Navy undoubtedly did the right thing in reversing its decision to discharge Petty Officer Stephen Jones,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United.

“We strongly suspected that his command was trying to find a round about way to discharge Jones because it suspected him of being gay, and we simply were not willing to stand by and watch a new version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ emerge under the new label of ‘unprofessional conduct,’” said Nicholson.

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