by Leo E. Laurence/Zenger's Newsmagazine
Tuesday, May. 29, 2012 at 12:39 PM
email@example.com (619) 220-8686 P.O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165
Anyone who thinks anti-Queer discrimination in the military is a thing of the past needs to read this article! Zenger's Newsmagazine associate editor Leo E. Laurence was fired from his stint as a volunteer at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) for bringing his roommate to an on-base event.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still alive at MCRD
by LEO E. LAURENCE, J.D.
Copyright © 2012 by Leo E. Laurence, J.D. for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved
I’m going through living hell after being “discharged” because I’m Gay at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) where I served as a volunteer Client Services Assistant in the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) offices in Building 14.
I was also under serious consideration to become the director of our suite of offices. The sitting director, Mike Brown, seems to be a closet homophobic. He retires from the NMCRS this month.
I hold a law degree and completed an unprecedented four-year post-doctoral study of appellate law at the California Court of Appeal in San Diego.
A three-star lieutenant general recruited me at the Quantico Marine Base last year. Following the general’s instructions, I first looked into the L.I.N.K program at Miramar, but re-located closer to my Hillcrest home at the NMCRS suite of offices at Marine Corps Re-cruit Depot in San Diego. I liked working in the Marine environment at MCRD.
My post at the front desk was to answer all phone calls, and I also processed interest-free, Quick Action Loans (Q.A.L.) providing up to $300 in about 15 minutes to help Marines and sailors with unexpected emergencies. I always dressed businesslike in a shirt and tie.
It was always thrill to see the wide smile on a sailor or Marine’s face as I hand them an interest-free, $300 Q.A.L. check.
I am solidly Marine in my soul and am impressed by the feel of a very special pride that every Marine shows. Marines are special!
Every Thursday, I have reported to the suite of offices at NMCRS in Building 14, behind the base exercise building.
Walking across the base, I’ve noticed that every Marine that I’ve seen is dressed as if getting ready for a formal inspection.
During all the months when I’ve served in the NMCRS offices, I’ve never seen a fat Marine.
Miracles are being performed on this base every day as teenagers right out of high school become proud Marines!
I eagerly attended training sessions at the 32nd Street Naval Base, and attended the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Southwest Professional Development Day on March 7.
Mr. Brown is retiring this month and on March 15, I sent a written application to replace Mr. Brown. I don’t think he liked that, to have a “faggot” succeed him as the NMCRS director at MCRD.
On April 16, I received a Certificate of Appreciation signed by Brigadier General Daniel D. Yoo, the base commanding general.
Two days later on April 18, I received a second Certificate of Appreciation, which was signed by Mr. Brown in recognition of having reached 100 hours service in our NMCRS offices.
That second award was presented at a special luncheon in the elegant Base Boat House, overlooking the bay.
Mr. Brown told me I could bring one guest to the luncheon.
I told him Isaac Rodriquez would be my guest. He’s 22, a graduating senior in history at SDSU, and is helping me write my autobiographical history book.
My boss, however, sat directly opposite Isaac and me at a large, round table. He apparently interpreted Isaac as a Gay date, and that was too much for him.
My boss didn’t say one word to either Isaac or myself.
“I totally agree with you that Mike hardly said a word to you, if that. I didn’t notice any hostilities during the luncheon, but I did notice that he was very quiet,” said Issac in an e-mail.
His tense eyes were staring down on his luncheon plate and never looked up at Isaac or myself during the entire luncheon. By the way, Isaac isn’t Gay. Indeed, he’s straight and recently married in New York City.
The next time I reported for duty in the NMCRS office I was ordered to leave. My base ID card was confiscated by Mr. Brown.
It was a horrible, humiliating experience and quite odd just one week after I was praised for my work with two awards. I had been “discharged” without due process of law.
“Unfortunately, the NMCRS office aboard the Depot is a tenant aboard the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and we are supported by their efforts, but have no control or oversight over their hiring/firing practices or their management decisions,” wrote Depot Inspector Col. J. Q. Hall.
“I suggest you forward your concerns to either the NMCRS Regional Office located at the 32nd Street Naval Base or the NMCRS Head-quarters in Virginia,” Col. Hall added in a letter on behalf of Brigadier General Yoo.
A brief letter from NMCRS Executive Vice President Carl B. Jensen simply echoed the misinformation and distorted facts used by Mr. Brown.
Business Card Fiasco
I was doing very well as a “Client Services Associate.” I liked my post on the front desk of our NMCRS suite.
I loved answering the phones because I talked to so many special people.
My former desk had colorful business cards, which my fellow workers usually ignored.
One day a smartly dressed Marine came in for a Q.A.L. I could see his pride being a Marine.
After I gave him a $300 Q.A.L. check, he asked me for a card. I did not proffer a card, because Mr. Brown forbade it. The Marine asked me to simply print my name, including my doctoral degree in law, and cell number. It would have been rude to deny that simple request.
I helped a Marine, but someone with a dirty mind might interpret the business card as a way to “connect” with the Marine later.
Mr. Brown and I seemed to get along fine … until the awards luncheon. Just one week later, I got canned because I wrote my name on one of our business cards, as requested. Totally weird, but also typical of the actions of older homophobes.
Mr. Brown artificially took a very kind jester to a Marine who had asked for the card, and made into something so serious that it could warrant a dismissal from the NMCRS offices.
My life has suddenly gone from my personal pride serving on the base in a nightmare in my mind. I’m having serious difficulties sleeping and can’t get this nightmare out of my thinking.
I have asked for several investigations to determine if Mr. Brown violated any rules, including a due-process challenge. I am also asking for the immediate return of my base ID card.
I’m a senior citizen and one attorney said he thinks this may also be a good case of elder abuse.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is very much alive at MCRD.