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Gay soldier who
was attacked is discharged

Gay soldier who
was attacked is discharged

The 19-year-old U.S. Army private who was attacked by a fellow soldier for being gay was discharged Thursday.

Kyle Lawson, 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. (Advocate.com)

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