y and m online spacerissuesactivismresourcesFor the MediaMagazine eye
inside the news
next story
August 2000

Homophobia in the U.S. Military
"Donít Ask; Donít Tell" Ė Six Years Later
by Harold Jordan
1 | 2 | 3 | 4

inside the news icon
Private First Class Barry Winchell

The murder of a gay soldier has brought to light a disturbing pattern of harassment and poor leadership. Is the military serious about stopping hate crime?

AT A GLANCE: Facts about Military Homophobia

  • Anti-gay harassment has been on the rise.
  • Service members who harass or improperly investigate gay service members are rarely held accountable.
  • The military has never committed its resources to creating an atmosphere free of homophobia.
  • "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" has created new dangers for lesbian and gay service members.
ask us!

Want to print this story?
Use this version.

July 4th marked the first anniversary of the violent death of Pfc. Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Winchell, a young gay soldier and a member of the Armyís 101st Airborne Division (the "Screaming Eagles"), was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat by two fellow soldiers as he slept. So severe was the beating Ė Winchellís head was swollen and his eyes were completely black Ė that his corpse was almost unrecognizable to his mother. Two soldiers were later convicted of crimes related to his murder.

This anniversary has been marked by another troubling event: the release of an Army Inspector Generalís report which largely exonerates military leadership in its handling of homophobia at Fort Campbell.

This case, perhaps more than any other single incident, has brought new attention to the mistreatment of gay and lesbian service members (and to others who are alleged to be gay) in todayís military. Most of that attention has focused on the policy known as "Donít Ask; Donít Tell." Among the questions being asked are these: Is this situation an aberration? Is the militaryís policy itself flawed or is it simply not being implemented?

There can be little doubt that "Donít Ask; Donít Tell," which has been in effect for six years, has had disastrous consequences for the lives of many service members. Yet the problems didnít start and donít end there. "Donít Ask; Donít Tell" has created new uncertainties and risks for service members compared to the preexisting ban. Underneath this policy lies a military institution that is unwilling to protect the basic human and civil rights of its members.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 contined ->
spacerabout ussite mapFAQscontact uswhat's newhomeAFSC home

issues | activism | resources | media | news
ask us | homophobia in the military | militarizing the "war on drugs"
about us | site map | FAQs | contact us | what's new | Y&M home | AFSC home

© American Friends Service Committee · National Youth & Militarism Program 1998, 1999, 2000.