December 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Discharged gay sailor rejoins Navy

Jase Daniels (photo courtesy of SLDN)

A gay sailor who holds the distinction of being discharged twice under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was readmitted to the armed forces — and may be the first gay person to re-enlist as an active duty service member since repeal of the military’s gay ban.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jase Daniels — discharged in 2005 and again in 2007 — was sworn in Monday in the Navy to serve on active duty as a linguist.

“Today, I took an oath and affirmed to defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” Daniels said in statement. “I am humbled as I am reinstated to the job I love and by the enormous support I have received on this momentous day. I look forward to returning to the Defense Language Institute and ultimately, my career in the military.”

Formerly known as Jason Knight, Daniels was readmitted to the armed forces as a result of a lawsuit that Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster filed on behalf of service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” seeking to re-enlist in the armed forces, according to SLDN.

Daniels, 29, is one of three plaintiffs in the case, Almy v. United States, which was filed in 2010. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the discharges under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — which was lifted Sept. 20 — and seeks their reinstatement to active duty. Resolutions for the other plaintiffs — Mike Almy, a gay former Air Force communications officer, and former Air Force Staff Sergeant Anthony Loverde — are expected soon.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said Daniels’ reinstatement reflects the changes of the post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military.

“The reinstatement of Petty Officer Daniels into the United States Navy underscores that all qualified and needed service members are now officially welcomed back into the ranks,” Sarvis said. “The new policy and regulations in this post-repeal era make this historic occasion possible.”

Daniels isn’t the first service member discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to be readmitted in the armed forces. That distinction went to Lee Reinhart, who re-entered the armed forces by joining the Navy Reserves in October.

Reinhart served as a Navy sailor from 1995 to 1999 and joined the Coast Guard after Sept. 11, 2001. After joining the Coast Guard, he was discharged four months later under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

But unlike Reinhart, Daniels is being reinstated to his former status and may be the first person discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to return to the armed forces on active duty. Because of the lawsuit in which he participated, Daniels didn’t have to go to the back of the line to re-enlist, as others seeking to re-enter the armed forces have done.

Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokesperson, said she can’t confirm who was the first person discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to be readmitted to the military because the Defense Department doesn’t keep track of such information.

Daniels entered the military in 2001. His first tour of duty was with the Ceremonial Guard in Washington, D.C., where he served at White House ceremonies and during state and military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. Daniels later completed Hebrew linguist training and was stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga.

After coming to terms with his sexual orientation, Daniels outed himself to his commander and was discharged from the Navy in 2005. However, in 2006, Daniels received a letter recalling him to the Navy. Even with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in effect, Daniels served in Kuwait for a year with the U.S. Navy Customs Battalion Romeo before he was discharged a second time under the law.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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