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Gay soldier attacked at Fort Huachuca is discharged

Even worse is the fact that his attacker remains on duty. Kyle Lawson was outed at a party and he suffered numerous threats and assaults by fellow homophobic soldiers. In many of the cases, no one was charged or they received a wrist slap. I first posted about this story here. (SLDN):

Kyle Lawson, a 19-year old Army Private who was recently attacked by a fellow soldier who learned Lawson is gay, was discharged yesterday from the Army. Officials at Fort Huachuca, where Private Lawson and his attacker were both stationed, have refused to say if any appropriate action has been taken to hold his attacker, Private Zacharias Pierre, accountable.

“The Army should retain patriotic soldiers like Private Lawson and discharge those who viciously beat their colleagues out of sheer prejudice, like Private Pierre,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “Harassment will continue to flourish and commanders will continue to condone that harassment, as they appear to have done in this case, so long as it remains official policy to discharge soldiers for being gay. Congress and the Pentagon must repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ immediately and impose strict penalties against those who engage in any form of harassment. If America is fighting for democracy abroad, it must abide by those same principles at home.”

Private Lawson’s nose was broken and he was later threatened with a knife after a friend revealed during a Battalion party in October that Lawson is gay. While Private Pierre was originally charged with aggravated assault by civilian police, Fort Huachuca officials have decided not to prosecute the case “for reason fort officials say they are not at liberty to explain,” according to press reports. Lawson says the solider used an anti-gay slur during the attack.

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The SLDN is also on working on another front — to answer the question of whether the Pentagon is spying on civilian meetings related to “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if SLDN or other LGBT organizations have been monitored by the Bush Admin.

“The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is justifiably alarmed to learn that the federal government has been spying on private citizens exercising their first amendment rights to speak, protest and gather,â€? said C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of SLDN.

“We demand to know which LGBT groups have been monitored, what data has been gathered about those groups and why Pentagon leaders consider law-abiding citizens to be a threat to our national security. As Edward R Murrow said during the McCarthy era, ‘We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. . . . we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.'”

The December media reports said that Pentagon investigators labeled one anti- “don’t ask, don’t tell” a “credible threat” of terrorism.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding