LOS ANGELES, JAN. 11 -- A San Diego-based Army Reserve member who says it is time to "kick ass" in the Middle East has been given tentative permission to go overseas even though she has declared she is a lesbian.
Spec. 4 Donna Jackson has the approval of her company commander to accompany her hospital unit to the war zone, though that would appear to contradict U.S. military policy against homosexuals on active duty.
Jackson, 25, interviewed by telephone at a motel near Fort Ord, Calif., where she said she is staying with her lover, said Army authorities were evaluating her request after she faxed a declaration of her homosexuality to the Fort Ord base commander Wednesday.
"I want to serve my country and go to war," she said, "but I also want them to know who I am and I want to be honest about it."
Jackson said Col. Victor Lidner, a pediatric surgeon who commands her reserve unit, the 129th Evacuation Hospital, had been "very casual" when she told him Dec. 30 that she was a lesbian and said "I should be allowed to serve my country." A military attorney, however, told her later she probably would be discharged after returning from overseas.
Gay activists who have been lobbying for a change in military policy against homosexuals said this is the first known case of a homosexual service member simultaneously announcing sexual orientation and asking to be sent to a potential combat zone. Some service members have sought to escape deployment by declaring themselves gay.
Court decisions on the issue have been mixed, with one Army sergeant reinstated after showing he was allowed to reenlist despite widespread knowledge that he was gay.
Jackson said her unit is due to leave for the Persian Gulf this weekend. Beth Settle, a spokeswoman at Ford Ord, said investigation of the case is expected to be finished by the end of the month.