Who are the people named above? They all share something in common. They were all in the military. They were all reportedly gay. They were all murdered, severely injured or faced humiliation and torture at the hands of their superiors.
Their families are facing the shame of (or currently are, in the case of August Provost) the military preventing and/or denying an open investigation into their murders and/or assaults.
In the words of Joseph Rocha, who survived his attacks and described them in an article in the Washington Post:
I can’t say for certain when the abuse started or when it stopped. Now, several years removed from those days in Bahrain, it blends together in my mind as a 28-month nightmare.
Once, the abuse was an all-day event; a training scenario turned into an excuse to humiliate me. Normally we ran the dogs through practice situations — an earthquake, a bomb or a fight — that we might encounter in our work. That day, in a classroom at an American school in Bahrain, with posters of the Founding Fathers lining the walls, the scenario happened to be me. I was the decoy, and I had to do just what Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint ordered.
In one corner of the classroom was a long sofa, turned away from the door. When you walked into the room, it appeared that one man was sitting on it, alone. But I was there too — the chief had decided that I would be down on my hands and knees, simulating oral sex. A kennel support staff member and I were supposed to pretend that we were in our bedroom and that the dogs were catching us having sex. Over and over, with each of the 32 dogs, I was forced to enact this scenario.
Lawson, in the interview with the Arizona Star, tells of having to sleep in fear on a cot after having his nose broken during an attack by a fellow soldier because he was rumored to be gay. His attacker went unpunished.
Why is this happening? The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) reports that last year alone over 900 cases of hate crimes against gays (in the form of verbal and physical assault) in the military occurred.
This past Wednesday, President Obama made history:
Yet, in signing this historic legislation, the President has further perpetuated the shame of homophobia in the military.