United States. Congress. House. Committee on Veter.

Viewpoints on Veterans Affairs and related issues : hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, May 4, 1994 online

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tice differs very little from the old
one, a simple ban on homosexuals-

The main point, they say. is the new
policy's presumption that anyone
who says that he or she is gay is
engaging in homosexual acts or is
likely to do so. In theory, the soldier
has a right to rebut this presumption.
but senior Pentagon officials ac-
k.iowledge that would be difficult.

"It's the same policy, just different
words." said a marine corporal in
South Carolina who said his com-
mand is trying to discharge him
based on a statement from his doctor
that the marine considered himself to
be homosexual and associated with
other homosexuals.

Commanders Have Discretion

The provision giving commanders
broad discretion to start an investi-
gation was intended to give them new
leeway for deciding not to act. Com-
manders are also required to have
credible information of homosexual
conduct from trustworthy sources.
Simply going to a gay bar or reading
a gay publicaiion. for instance, is not
grounds for an inquiry.

But many advocates for homosex-
ual rights say the rules still leave
plenty of leeway for any commander
interested in hunting out homosex-

"There's greater sensitivity at the
higher echelons of the Pentagon to
live up to the promises of the new
policv. but at the base level there's
still a drive to ferret out anyone sus-
pected of being gay " said Nancy
Russell, a retired Army lieutenant
colonel who is president of the Gay.
Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans of
America ,^ ,

Take the case of a 20-year-old fe-
male marine lance corporal in North
Carolina whose supervisor ■ sum-
moned co-workers while the marine
•was away and demanded to know i(

Serviceraember, Legal Defense Network provided much of the background research for
this article. The attorneys quoted are part of SLDN's Legal Network.


anyone m th« unit was homosexual,
according to (he marine's lawyer,
Lida Savonarola, a former Army law-
yer in private practice In Illinois.

One of the marine's co-workers
said he had seen her kissmg another
woman in a car A second marine
said he had seen her dancing with
another woman at a local night club.
A formal investigation followed, and
the command is deciding what steps
to take next. Ms. Savonarola said.

A Career Is Ended

In another case, a marine sergeant
based m Okinawa said investigators
have accused his friends of having
homosexual sex with him. He denies
this. "They've asked my friends.
'Have you seen him with females? Do
you think he is fairyish^' " the ma-
rine said in a telephone interview.

Outnumbered by the complaincs
heard on military bases are some
positive reviews of the new rules.

"I worry less about my involve-
ment in gay organizations," said a
doctor in North Carolina. "If someone
found out about it. there's no clear
way to rout me from the Army."

On the day of Bill Clinton's inaugu-
ration. Lieut. Dirk Selland of the
Navy told his commander that he is
gay. He has since battled with Navy
lawyers, finally obtaining a Federal
court order allowing him to stay at
his supply job in Norfolk. Va., until his
suit against the policy is resolved.

Bui Lieutenant Selland said his im-
mediate commanders and co-work-
ers had supported his effort. "My
command is great." the lieutenant
said, "and I've been recommended
for promotion twice since 1 came out
Every day I serve as an openly gay
officer, the harder it wilt be to enforce
this policy"

But sorhe other highly regarded
gay troops say it is not worth the waiL
"I'm getting out because I don't want
to put with any of this anymore. ' said
a gay airman m North Carolina.



Pursue the Gay-Baiting Commanders

The Administration's new policy toward homo-
llexuals in the military was given the pithy title of
["don't ask. don't tell, don't pursue" — signifying a
willingness to tolerate gay men and lesbians as long
^^s they kept quiet about their sexual preferences.
Tsut bigoted commanders are pursuing homosex-
i*ials with a vengeance that appears to violate both
the spirit and letter of the law. There is one sure
way for Commander in Chief Clinton and the Penta-
gon to stop this betrayal of the new policy: punish
any commander who defies it, severely.

The new policy — a compromise hammered out
by the Administration, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
Congress — falls far short of President Clinton's
original goal of allowing homosexuals to serve
openly. Instead, it bans homosexual conduct and
tolerates gay service members only if their orienta-
tion remains covert.

The policy did provide that recruits would no
Jonger be questioned about homosexuality when
.;;applying to enter the armed services (don't ask).
But, once in uniform, gay service members are
"expected to keep their homosexuality private (don't
jtell). Otherwise, they are presumed to be engaging
„or likely to engage in homosexual acts, and thus
.subject to dismissal.

- In what was billed as an important effort to
'mitigate the past climate of fear and hostility,
-■'commanders were expected to take a more relaxed
attitude toward undeclared homosexuality. Instead
of launching witch hunts to find homosexuals and

expel them from the military, they were to investi-
gate only when credible evidence of homosexuality
was brought to their attention. In general, the policy
was "don't pursue."

But now, it turns out, some commanders are
pursuing more vigorously than ever, according to a
report by Eric Schmitt in yesterday's Times. In a
North Carolina case, for example, a female marine
is under investigation, her lawyer says, because her
supei^isor summoned co-workers and demanded to:
know if anyone in the unit was homosexual. TwO(
male marines said they had seen her kissing or
dancing with another woman. Soliciting such testi-
mony seems just the kind of active pursuit that is
supposedly forbidden under the new policy.

In another case, a Marine sergeant on Okinawa
says investigators have falsely accused his friends
of having homosexual sex with him. That kind of
heavy-handed inquisition smells suspiciously like
the old witch hunts that are supposedly outlawed
under the new policy.

If these cases are as presented, they constitute
outrageous defiance of a carefully constructed poli-
cy. The best way to end these witch hunts is to turn -
the hunt around. Whenever there are credible re-
ports that any commander has launched an unwar-
ranted investigation into the sexual preferences of a
service member, let the Pentagon launch an investi-
gation into possible misconduct by the commander.
Failure to follow orders is the gravest of all threats
to military discipline.



Nancy A. Russell 414 Slone Wood

National President San Antonio TX 78216-1624

Tel (voice/fax) 210-545-2643

Statement of Gay. Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America before the
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

of the

Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives
May 4, 1994

The following written statement is submitted by Nancy A. Russell, National President
of Gay. Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America , on behalf of the Board of Directors and
members, in addition to oral testimony presented this date.

Gay. Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America (GLBVA) wishes to reiterate the points
of concern raised in previous testimony before this Subcommittee, by the late LTC David Eckert,
USAF (ret.), Beth Harrison and Alan George Stephens in 1992', and by Aldo O. Rodriguez in
1993', all of whom are (or were) members of local organizations affiliated with GLBVA. We
deeply regret that many, if not all of the concerns our colleagues brought to the attention of the
Subcommittee, remain matters of equal or greater concern today.

First and ever foremost among those concerns, is the continued ban on service in the
United States Armed Forces, by generous and decent American citizens who are lesbian,
bisexual or gay.' Without mincing words, this on-going program of government-sanctioned,
unwarranted discrimination and abuse will surely be viewed in later years as a national disgrace.
Taken individually or collectively, the implications and con.sequences of this ban do now and
always will constitute a black mark on the national history, and a betrayal of those tenets which
are the very basis of the American Republic. Ii is in the best interests of furthering the American
ideals of freedom and fairness that this program of discrimination be ended immediately.
Negative presumptions about a person's capacity to .serve in any respect are made on the
of ascribing motives and patterns of conduct that are generally without basis in fact, and of
ignoring immutable traits of personality and character, traits which are of no real consequence
in as.sessing an individual's proven ability or willingness to provide skills, dedicated leadership
and years of .service when viewed in the absence of misunderstanding, willful disinformation and
bigotry. That such assumptions are made at all, is deplorable. That such assumptions are
encouraged as a programmed, directed and intended basis for determining any aspect of national
policy is despicable. In view of the tenor of the recent debate on the military ban, that anyone
entrusted with leadership for the nation should continue to beat such a dead horse as a means of
accruing political power, and that our political leaders welcome the support of special interest
groups with agenda.s that are antithetical to the American political legacy of tolerance, diversity
of thought, and respect for the individual based on the merits of that individual, is frightening
beyond our ability to describe.

We who served the nation, who answered ihe call to its asking no more than an
equal share of its freedoms, and who lovingly bore the consequences, do not rest in comfort on
blithe a.ssurances that the nation and its heritage of liberty will always survive and that the nation
will always in its blessings of social, material, political and spiritual benefit unless those
who cleave to the American ideal continue making those difficult and sometimes ultimate
sacrifices on its behalf. That willingness to sacrifice can only be sustained by an equal
willingness on the part of others to acknowledge it. and by offering in return an equal share in
the national bounty.

We view the ban, the con.sequences of the ban, and the evident political and social agenda
underlying the ban and its advocates as a grave threat to the American ideal. In the ab.sence of
destructive action by one group of people, no other group or individual has any right whatsoever


Slalemenl of Gav. Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America

May 4, 1994

to proscribe the participation of others in the labors, the harvests and in the defense of American
life and liberty. The tacit acceptance of suggestions by military or political public servants that
contributing to the national defense is a privilege and not a basic obligation of all beneficiaries
is rubbish. When America truly believes that it can dismiss the proffering of service and
sacrifice of a full 10% of its citizens in contributing to the national defense for reasons based
only on untruths, transient political advantage, and purported science that is perverted by
selectivity, distortion and misrepresentation of fact, then truly America faces a much graver threat
to its well-being from within, than any posed from without our borders.

When the leaders of a society can, on one hand, make specific and concise statements that
an individual's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his or her capacity to participate and contribute,
and on the other hand initiate, support and characterize discrimination based on sexual orientation
as an "honorable compromise," and when leaders, thinkers and advocates acquiesce in the
emplacement of a re-packaged version of the same old bigotry as before and call it progress, then
the nation stands in grave, immediate need of emergency attention to its political, social and
.spiritual health.

Members of Congress, we did not serve once in America's defense with the intent to give
up on her after our uniforms grew old in storage.

The issue of the military ban has now moved from the legislative venue to the Judicial.
The same President who credited the American gay community with a large measure of success
in his election, now orders his Justice Department to pursue those citizens, if they continue to
serve the nation in uniform, with a vigor that has astonished even the military legal authorities.
The present Administration is credited by some for employing a handful of lesbians, bisexuals
and gay men. The same Administration hiis contrived, ami now compounds its shame by
defending in the courts a policy leading to the dis-employment and life-long branding as unfit,
of thousands of other citizens. We do not know when, but we know we will win on this issue;
this is because we will not allow the battle to close until we have made a lasting victory.

The victory we .seek is not for our community"s gain alone. When the sanctity of the
liberty of one individual is threatened, history has proven that the sanctity of freedom everywhere
is at

Although we are informed we have but ten printed pages to make our case, we take this
opportunity to record the names of some of our many heroes who have fought, and some who
continue to fight (in uniform and out) on behalf of liberty for all Americans, without asking what
kind of Americans they might he. We name the names of Cliff Amesen, Raelani Azada-Madsen,
Barbara Baum. Miriam Ben-Shalom, Michele Benecke, Vernon Berg. Kick Buchanan, Mike
Bustamante, Greta Cammermeyer, Christopher Camp, Rabbi John Cutler, Dennis Delia, Tanya-^
Domi, Jim Dronenburg, Zoe Dunning, David Eckert, Justin Elzie, Tere Frederickson. Michael
Gary, Beth Harrison, Jim Holobaugh, Kitt Kling, German Lopez, Leonard Matlovich, Thomas
Paniccea, Johnnie Phelps, the Rev. Dusty Pruitt, Bud Robbins, Chuck Schoen, Dirk Selland,
Joseph Steffan. Karen Stupski, Tracy Thome. Perry Watkins, Dr. Fran Watson, Ed Westrick,
Archie WiLson. Jim Woodward. Thousands more unnamed American heroes have served to
ensure the simple freedoms they, themselves do not yet have the full measure of. Their names
and sacrifices must rest heavily on the American conscience as they whisper of freedoms lovingly
bled for. dreamed about, cherished, awaited.

In the best interests of all concerned, we suggest to the nation and its leaders that the
inevitability of progress on this issue demands we address ourselves to its accomplishment in the
most expeditious manner. In direct contravention oi' statements by who oppose progress
on this issue, we further suggest that the Armed Forces may actually represent the most
appropriate place for this progress to begin. There is no other venue within the American society
in which a policy can be implemented and appropriate education and training be carried out as
a matter of course. We believe, too, that our military leaders must agree that when competent
leadership on any given i.ssue is even .so much as offered, our service members have a

Page 2


Slatcnicnl of Ciav. l.cshiaii & Bisexual Veterans of America

May 4. 1994

demonslraled capacity to respond positively, anticipate needs and provide lor their accomplish-
ment. Revisionist historians, attempting to frame the recent debate on gays in the military in a
historical context, have utterly failed to provide accurate and complete exposition of how
President Truman's Executive Order"" to racially integrate the Armed Forces laid a necessary
foundation for equally necessary progress, albeit difficult and inconsistent, on racial integration
throughout the American society. This process was begun in the military community as a
con.sequence of Truman's directive, and remains a point of pride, despite that much remains to
be done on this and other such issues. Inferences that this possibility for progress is impossible
to repeat are an insult and a discredit to the intelligence, the competence and good intentions of
our colleagues in uniform, to which we will not subscribe.

This is no so-called 'social experimentation.' or making inappropriate use of the national
defense as a proving ground. Those who suggest that is the case are dissembling. We are
Americans, and it is right to look for the best of each other. Since we have historically expected
our military services to meet a higher standard of leadership and performance, it would be
incon.sistent to say they should not be expected to lead on this issue. Those gay Americans who
have served, and whose ranks grace our organization with their honor, courage and pride, know
something about the issue of national defense. Nothing so motivates a dedicated and educated
soldier, airman, marine or sailor than the knowledge and understanding of the contribution they
make to full freedom.

Perhaps we listened too clo.sely when, in basic training and afterward, we were taught
about leadership. The Administration, the Congress and the military establishment have suffered
us all an utter and costly failure of leadership thus far. on this issue. The existence of this ban
has a demonstrable and directly attributable cost in human lives and suffering as well as a
financial cost, all of which are unnecessary, unjustified by anything said thus far and. therefore,
shameful. We lay these costs, particularly the human ones, flatly at the feel of our national
leaders who, with few exceptions, have refused to move the nation forward.

In simple point of fact, for those who wish this issue to go away, and desire those of
us who advocate on it to shut up, it would make as much sense to wish that America had
no more children as it does to wish that we will abandon any single one of them . We have
sadly concluded that the damaging effects of this discrimination will take a long time to
eradicate: therefore the simple sense of incurring no further damage to our society and its
people is. to us, plainly clear. This, then, and until all the troops are welcomed home in a
true spirit of freedom and respect, remains the underlying basis of our programs, whatever
they may be, and however long they shall last, until such time as the ban on military service
by our sisters and brothers is lifted and all traces of it and its causes are removed.

Di.scussion of Issues Pertaining to Veterans Rights, Benefits. Programs

and Services With Occasional Reference to Imphcations Consequent to

the MiHtary Ban

What follows is our discussion and recommendations on a range of issues relating to
veterans concerns, with a view towards sustaining and contributing to our members' status as
military veterans, and for the benefit of all veterans irrespective of membership in this
organization, their personal circumstances or orientation.

Reform of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Uniform Code of Military Justice
(UCMJ) in present form, is outmoded, and provides for of basic concepts of American
law beyond any necessity for a modem military. When Stephen Decatur strode the deck of USS
Constitution in the 19th Century, it was likely necessary to convey such now-inordinate amounts
of power over the lives of service members to their commanding officer. However, in the last
decade of the 20th Century, with the availability of modem communication and transportation
a matter of pride within the Armed Forces, the service member in peacetime should not, under
any circumstances, be subjected to the prospect of punishment without immediate recourse to

Page ?>


Statement of Gav. Ixsbian & Bisexual Veterans of America

May 4, 1W4

common rules of evidence and the aid of qualilied legal counsel who do not depend on the
approval of the prosecuting agency lor their livelihood. Short of comhat situations or other
national peril, those whose service provides the very basis for guaranteeing American justice and
fairness are no less, and may even be thought to be especially deserving of fairness in manner
and procedure of hearings, when they face charges.

It is time to take a look at Article 1.^4 of the Code, the so-called "General Article." Any
average soldier or sailor can tell you that regardless of the legalese in which the Article is
written, its true meaning, and too often its actual usage is nothing other than "whatever we don't
have a specific Article to get you with, we hereby get you with this one." Attached as Exhibit
A is the second page of a Flan of the Day from the Naval Nuclear Power School. Naval Training
Center, Orlando, FL. We respectfully draw the Subcommittee members" attention to Item 3,
CD'S NJP . (Commanding Officer's Non-Judicial Punishment), the findings and .sentence for
an prosecuted under Article 134. The in question is "Bringing discredit to the
armed forces by urinating through the springs of a bed." The guilty sailor forfeited $.^().(K) in pay
for two months for such an offense. If any Member of Congress should be motivated to offer
us an explanation of the basis, clarity and defensibility of such a bizarre charge, we are eager to
hear it.

We specifically request an account of the number of in which the UCMJ's so-called
'sodomy article' (Article 125, UCMJ) has been applied where heterosexual conduct is in
question, as compared to the number of instances where homosexual conduct is alleged. There
is no language in the article limiting its application to instances of alleged homo.sexual conduct.
However, we strongly su.spect that a comparison of statistics regarding its application for punitive will demonstrate that it is almost exclusively used as a weapon against gay service

We specifically request the Congress to direct the Department of Defense to provide
figures for so-called homosexual discharges for the years since 1990 (the last year covered in the
GAO report), to include every discharge where reference to a service member's actual or alleged
homo.sexuality or homo.sexual conduct is made, and that the statistics be broken down to reflect
character of discharge given. Veterans advocates have alleged, and we believe it is probable that
recent publicity and debate regarding the military ban may have resulted in an in
Department of Defense efforts to identify and lake punitive action against service members on
the basis of actual or perceived homosexual or bisexual orientation.

We urge the Congress to immediately amend Article 125, the 'sodomy' article, of the
Uniform Code of Military Justice. The private consensual activities of adults are no business of
the government at any level, or the military as a government agency. However, we recommend
with equal urgency that an amended Article 125 pro.scribe all acts of .sodomy in involving
violence or coersion, and that it be specifically and inclusively worded to address such instances
in homcsexual and heterosexual situations. We believe that the aggregate statistical information
regarding acts of rape, assault, sexual harassment and other such offensive acts demonstrate the
need for strong statements and means of addressing this problem which appears more among
heterosexual members of the Armed Frrces than efsewhere. Further, we request that a program
be created and fully funded to immediately strike all disciplinary actions from all service records,
taken on the basis of Article 125, where violence or coercion was not present, and to review and
upgrade all discharges given on the basis of such disciplinary action.

We are particularly concerned about use and misuse of the UCMJ, and its effects on
active duty personnel this has a direct effect on the character of the service member's
discharge and con.sequenily, entitlement to veterans benefits. When the Code is used as a means
of building a non-adjudicated record of alleged offenses to construct a case for discharging a
member the commanding officer dislikes, which we believe constitutes of the military
disciplinary system, the service member invariably suffers long and short-term con.sequences that
ar^ Mosupported by factual findings.

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Stalcmem of Gav. Leshiaii & Bisexual Vclcrans of America

May 4. 1994

Modification of Separation Documents. Considering the above, we recommend changes to
.separation regulations and forms, specifically DP Form 214 (Armed Forces Report of Transfer
or Discharge). The discharged service member receives part.s 1 and 2 of the multi-part form.

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on VeterViewpoints on Veterans Affairs and related issues : hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, May 4, 1994 → online text (page 21 of 23)