the 19-year-old U.S. Army private who says he was
attacked by a fellow soldier for being gay, was discharged
on Thursday, according to a statement from the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund.
Meanwhile, officials at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.,
are refusing to say if Lawson's attacker, Pvt.
Zacharias Pierre, was punished.
"The Army should retain patriotic
soldiers like Private Lawson and discharge those who
viciously beat their colleagues out of sheer
prejudice, like Private Pierre," said C. Dixon
Osburn, SLDN's executive director. "Harassment
will continue to flourish and commanders will continue
to condone that harassment, as they appear to have done in
this case, so long as it remains official policy to
discharge soldiers for being gay."
Private Lawson's nose was broken and he
was later threatened with a knife after a friend
revealed during a battalion party in October
2005 that Lawson is gay. While Pierre was originally
charged with aggravated assault by civilian police,
Fort Huachuca officials have decided not to prosecute
the case "for reason fort officials say they are
not at liberty to explain," according to media
reports. Lawson says the solider used an antigay slur
during the attack.
Fort Huachuca officials also continue to refuse
to explain why the civilian police recommendation to
charge Pierre with felony assault was overruled or to
explain discrepancies between their various press
statements and the police officer's account of the
incident. Officials have also declined to cite any
measures that may have been taken to hold Pierre
accountable for the attack, citing privacy laws.
"The privacy laws cited by Fort Huachuca
do not prohibit military officials from explaining an
appropriate course of punishment for similar incidents
and confirming that punishment in a specific case was
consistent with those options," said Osburn.
"The command at Fort Huachuca owes Private
Lawson, Congress, and the public an explanation about
why an antigay attack appears to have gone unpunished."
In December, Massachusetts congressman Barney
Frank wrote to Army chief of staff General Peter
Schoomaker asking him to explain why Lawson's
attacker had not been held accountable. "I am struck
by the cruel irony of your allowing a young man who
appears to be guilty of nothing to be first assaulted
and then driven out," Frank wrote in his letter.