Barney Frank chides Army for failing to protect gay soldier

In a letter to Army officials, the gay lawmaker demands answers regarding an attack on a gay soldier.

BY admin

December 30 2005 12:00 AM ET

Gay congressman
Barney Frank of Massachusetts is demanding answers from
military supervisors who he says did not do enough to
protect a gay Army private attacked by fellow soldiers
in Arizona. Nineteen-year-old Kyle Lawson said he was
threatened with a knife and had his nose broken in two
separate incidents this fall after members of his battalion
at Fort Huachuca learned he is gay. Lawson says his
attackers received what amounted to a slap on the
wrist.

Fearing further
attacks and a lack of protection from Army brass, Lawson
has requested a military discharge. “I am deeply
disappointed by the failure of the Army, which you
head, to protect a young man who has been repaid for
volunteering to serve his country by being assaulted, and
seeing his assailant go unpunished,” Frank wrote in a
letter to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, chief of staff of the
United States Army.

Fort Huachuca
spokeswoman Tanja Linton claims the commanders took
“appropriate action” against the assailants
although the Army didn’t take the case to
court. Citing privacy laws, Linton didn’t say what
specific action was taken. Civilian police have made
an arrest, though, and charged a soldier with class 3
felony aggravated assault for punching Lawson in the
face.

The attacks on
Lawson and the Army’s response to them have sparked
outrage from many gay rights activists, including Patricia
Kutteles, mother of Barry Winchell, an Army private
murdered in 1999 by fellow soldiers who believed he
was gay. “In 2000, following Barry's murder, the
Pentagon announced it would take concrete steps to curb
antigay harassment in our military and to hold
accountable those who harass and condone
harassment,” Kutteles said. “Nearly six years
later, Pentagon leaders have failed to keep their
promise. The time has come for them to do just that,
or for Congress to hold them accountable if they do
not.” (Advocate.com)

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