Military promotions are on hold in the Senate, sources say. The Senate approves military promotions, but an unidentified Republican senator is blocking them from moving forward, Senate sources speaking on the condition of anonymity said Thursday. A single senator can block measures from moving forward by placing a "hold" on them. The senator who is blocking the military promotions is thought to be acting in retaliation for a separate hold placed by an unnamed Democrat on an Army general's promotion.
Maj. Gen. Robert Clark was nominated by the president for his third star and a promotion. However, the nomination has been criticized by Democrats and gay rights groups because Clark presided over an Army Base at which a soldier thought to be gay was murdered. If approved by the Senate, Clark would become a lieutenant general and the commanding general of the Fifth U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, Tex. Clark is currently the acting commanding general there.
Clark was commander of Fort Campbell, on the Kentucky-Tennessee line, in July 1999, when a soldier attacked Pfc. Barry Winchell with a baseball bat because he believed Winchell was gay. Pvt. Calvin Glover of Sulphur, Okla., was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, and Spc. Justin Fisher of Lincoln, Neb., was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison for lying to investigators.
An internal investigation turned up evidence of antigay behavior in Winchell's unit prior to the murder. However, the Army's inspector general concluded that the chain of command at Fort Campbell appropriately enforced the Pentagon's policy of permitting gays to serve in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.