Badpuppy Gay Today

Tuesday, 07 April 1998


Says Defense Secretary William Cohen's Bland Assurances Spell "Abuse"
Cohen Asserts that "No Military Witchhunts" Have Been in Progress

By Jack Nichols


" None are so blind as those who will not see!" said pioneer-activist Frank Kameny of Secretary of Defense William Cohen's assurances yesterday that there'd been no recent witchhunts to pursue homosexual servicemembers and that ranking officers had engaged in no illegal activities which might contradict the military's adopted policy of compromise.

Since the implementation of the Clinton Administration's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policies began, homosexuals in the Armed Services have known only increased harassment. This is made abundantly clear from annual expulsion statistics.

According to Dixon Osburn, co-executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, 597 gay-identified servicemembers were expelled in 1995. The number rose in 1996 to 850. In 1997, the number teetered around a thousand.

Kameny notes that "Defense Secretary William Cohen's bland assurances that the 'Don't ask; Don't tell' policy will not be abused and will be strictly enforced simply do not jibe with firmly-founded fact."

The father of gay activist militancy Kameny, for a score of years, helped launch nearly all of the earliest legal and procedural challenges to anti-gay U.S. military policy. He now scoffs at routine evasions of truth such as those made Monday by Secretary Cohen, just as he scoffed when bureaucratic militarists in an earlier era regularly addressed gay and lesbian issues by showing a vengeful disregard for fair play. In scorning Secretary Cohen's latest assertions, Kameny told GayToday:

"The non-stop series of well-publicized witch hunts, and outright persecutions of individual gay servicemembers over the past half-decade, arising in all Services, involving gross and clear abuses, and accompanied by a total lack of any known instance of disciplinary action being taken against the commanding officers responsible, attests to the outright falsehood of Cohen's assertions."

"Most damning is the recent McVeigh case," insists Kameny, "in which, despite the most wanton and egregious abuses, the Department of Injustice, acting as Cohen's lawyers and therefore necessarily following his instructions, are appealing the favorable decision rendered by Judge Sporkin, and are refusing to return McVeigh to duty."

(See GayToday archives, World, April 1)

"Cohen," believes Kameny, "is either grossly misinformed as to what his subordinates are doing to the gay servicemembers under them, or is unconscionably hypocritical."

"Abuse," intoned the legendary militant activist," thy name is William Cohen!"

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