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Barney Frank
chides Army for failing to protect gay soldier

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.

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." (

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