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A 20-year-old gay Marine Corps reservist is seeking conscientious objector status.
Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk turned himself in to military authorities in San Jose today. Outside the Marine Corps reserve center Funk told a small crowd of supporters that all wars are immoral.
“The military coerces people into killing,” he said.
“I may not be a hero but I know it takes courage to disobey.”
Funk then changed into fatigues walked through the reserve center gate, accompanied by his mother and a younger sister.
Funk was AWOL for more than a month while he prepared his application for a conscientious objector discharge.
“My moral development has also been largely effected by the fact that I’m homosexual,” Funk said in his application.
“I believe that as a gay man, someone who is misunderstood by much of the general population, I have a great deal of experience with hatred and oppression. When someone is thrust into a situation of hate and oppression because of factors they have no control over, I believe they either react with hatred back, because they’ve experienced it, or they learn not to be that way towards others. I have adopted the latter reaction and stand with the oppressed people of the world who know that hate and oppression do not solve any problems.”
Capt. Patrick O’Rourke, a Marine Corps spokesperson, said that Funk would be required to serve a form of restricted duty at the center, but he will be allowed to go home at the end of each day, while officials determined how he should be punished for failing to report for duty when his reserve company was given activation orders last month.
O’Rourke also said military authorities will follow established procedures for considering Funk’s application for a conscientious objector discharge.
O’Rourke said that an applicant must submit a detailed letter explaining how his or her feelings have changed since joining the armed forces. Then there are interviews with a military chaplain, a psychiatrist and an investigating officer, with a final decision made by top military commanders.
In his application Funk said ” I couldn’t ‘come out’ in boot camp, but everyone pretty much knew that I was gay, and many hated me for it. The military cultivates antigay sentiment among its enlisted, but I also believe it perpetuates feelings of hatred against all that are different either culturally, ethnically, or otherwise. I think that is the way the military dehumanizes the enemy (whomever that my be) so that its members won’t be adverse to killing them.
” Coming to that realization about war disgusted me and made me completely opposed to military action.”
Other members of the San Jose-based 1st Beach & Terminal Operations Company have been sent to Camp Pendleton in San Diego and are scheduled to go overseas from there.
MARY ELLEN PETERSON writes for 365Gay.com, where this story originally appeared.
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