ANOTHER BLOW TO THE PENTAGON GAY BAN By Shelley Ettinger

Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit


ANOTHER BLOW TO THE PENTAGON GAY BAN

By Shelley Ettinger

The Clinton administration's "don't ask--don't tell" policy on
gays in the military suffered a significant blow April 4. A
federal district judge ordered the Pentagon not to discharge gay
or lesbian GIs who come out of the closet to challenge the
policy.

Six service members had filed a lawsuit to overturn the Clinton
"compromise," which allows gay men and lesbians in the military
as long as they hide their identity.

By the strange logic of "don't ask--don't tell," the act of
filing suit automatically made the six vulnerable to discharge.
So they sought--and won--a court ruling ordering the brass to
keep hands off while the case is under way.

In his 25-page decision, Judge Eugene H. Nickerson of New York
actually went further. He indicated that he will probably rule
against the policy itself.

His was only the latest in a series of decisions against anti-gay
discrimination in the military. But it was the first to
specifically confront the "new and improved" Clinton-era gay ban.

The courts appear to be reacting to the swell of lesbian and gay
anger since Clinton reneged on his 1992 campaign promise on this
issue. The administration itself, however, continues to sanction
the persecution of gays in the military.

In its April 5 issue, the national gay magazine The Advocate
reported on the March 1 court-martial of Air Force Sergeant Mark
Rayford for the "crime" of homosexuality. According to the
report, Rayford was the fourth of eight soldiers at the U.S. Air
Force base in Ramstein, Germany, to be prosecuted in a recent
anti-gay sweep there.

Even this apparently isn't good enough for the brass, however.
American Legion magazine, an authoritative right-wing source,
reported in its March issue that "members of Congress are
considering intervention on their own through a legal brief
[defending the ban] before the Supreme Court ... with the
participation of Sen. Sam Nunn. ..."

Meanwhile, the movement against the Pentagon keeps rolling along.
On March 15, after a three-year fight, the State University of
New York agreed to bar military recruiters from its campuses.
More than 400,000 students attend SUNY colleges on 64 campuses.

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YANKEE STADIUM?

The struggle is moving on other fronts, too.

Kentucky, for instance. There, a coalition of progressive
organizations "successfully held off 11 different pieces of
anti-gay/lesbian/bisexual legislation proposed by the religious
right-wing zealots in the House and Senate." That's according to
an Internet report from Keith D. Elston at the University of
Kentucky.

The defeated bills would have prohibited gay-rights laws,
criminalized gay sex, and imposed anti-gay restrictions on
education in the state.

And in Hawaii, activists say a legislative attempt to head off
the legalization of same-sex marriage appears headed for
defeat--if politicians keep their word. A bill defining marriage
as heterosexual will die in committee April 8 if a sixth sponsor
is not found.

Last year, a court ruling that apparently paved the way for gay
marriage in Hawaii stunned conservatives. The [Gay] Marriage
Project is focusing on this issue, which members say is a key
area of inequality.

New York City is where the Stonewall Rebellion opened the modern
gay liberation movement 25 years ago. There on March 31, Yankee
Stadium managers suddenly announced they may cancel the Gay Games
closing ceremony, set to take place there June 25, during the
Stonewall anniversary celebration.

The Games are expected to draw 11,000 athletes and up to 100,000
spectators. Organizers say stadium officials had long since
agreed they could use the ballpark for the final day.

Now management says a Catholic high school baseball game may need
the stadium. Activists charged the reversal smacked of
interference by notoriously anti-gay zealot John Cardinal
O'Connor--and vowed he will not be allowed to spoil the day.

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