The Outrage of Waiting: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell And A Soldier’s Death

(The Daily Horse Comments at End)

REPRINTED IN FULL FROM The Gay and Lesbian Times

BY NICOLE MURRAY-RAMIREZ, SAN DIEGO CITY COMMISSIONER AND CHAIR OF THE SAN DIEGO HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION

Published Thursday, 02-Jul-2009 in issue 1123

We all know there has always been a “gay network” on Capitol Hill and in the White House, regardless of whether there is a Republican or Democratic at the head of the administration.

In fact, there is a “gay network” everywhere we are: in the entertainment industry, the media and in the military. We are and always have been everywhere.

In the early morning of Tuesday, June 30, the body of 29-year-old gay sailor, Seaman August Provost, was found in a guard shack at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside. Soon after the 3 a.m. discovery, the “gay network” on base began reaching out to the GLBT community. Serious concerns were rising by late afternoon, because no official announcements of this murder were being made, although internal reports were being written and passed along through the military brass.

Calls about the murder swarmed in while hours passed and both gay and straight military sources continued to grow more concerned.

Activists within the GLBT community began receiving reliable and very accurate information about the murder as it was being reported on base long before mainstream media began investigating the story and reporting it to the public.

On Wednesday morning, Ben Gomez, from the San Diego Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights, began discussing our deep concerns about the fact that there as no public media coverage about the murder.

I began to receive reports from sources on base that Seaman Provost was not only gay, but that he had possibly been harassed by other servicemembers for his sexual orientation and for being perceived as gay.

Some reports that came from the base even stated that Provost may have been the subject of anti-gay harassment only hours before he went on duty and was killed.

Yesterday, Wednesday, July 1, an official flag raising ceremony of the Rainbow Flag was held at the Navy Training Center Liberty Station to officially kick off San Diego Pride Month.

As I arrived at the event at which I was speaking, I received more information from sources on base about the murder that occurred 24-hour prior.

I spoke with officials from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and the American Veterans for Equal Rights, who joined me as Chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission (HRC) in asking for a complete investigation on this possible hate crime.

Last month the HRC voted to urge the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and officially requested the San Diego City Council take an official stance on the repeal of the policy.

The media in attendance at the NTC picked up the story of the Camp Pendleton murder as I spoke about it.

I contacted Congressmembers Bob Filner and Susan Davis to request that they make an official inquiry into the murder and to determine if it was indeed a hate crime.

Filner has officially called for a special investigation and a full disclosure from the military.

We want to make sure there is a full public disclosure made by the military authorities, concerning this murder and possible hate crime.

It is important to note that late Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning we were receiving reports from our sources on the base Provost may have not only been shot, but his body also possibly burned. This is information the “gay network” gave us –reaching out to us – in the GLBT community, long before media even started reporting about a sailor murder on Camp Pendleton. Reliable sources from the base say that Provost was facing a possible discharge, likely on the basis of his sexual orientation.

Sadly, I was also informed that Provost’s partner Kaether Cordero, who lives in Texas, and who Provost had told friends was the “love of his life,” only found out about his lover’s murder by a reporter who called him.

It is also interesting that Congressmember Filner was on base Tuesday and no one informed him about the murder.

The fact is, because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” partners of gay and lesbian soldiers who are killed in action while defending our country are never informed of their death, just as was in the case Provost’s partner.

I’ve received calls from gay military personnel who knew Provost, who joined the Navy 15-months-ago, and was hoping to become an engineer. Friends tell me Provost was a happy-go-lucky, down-to-earth, nice-guy who was a “snappy dresser.” This smart, patriotic and handsome gay sailor was African-American and was described to me by his friends as a wonderful, loving, human being who loved his family and his partner. One friend stated he could have been a model in Ebony Magazine, because he had such a friendly smile.

I offer my deep condolences to the Provost family, his partner Kaether and his friends.

The GLBT community of San Diego, AVER, SLDN, the Human Relations Commission and the Gay & Lesbian Times will continue to monitor the murder of this proud American servicemember. We appreciate Congressmember Filner and his office making official inquiries into a possible hate crime surrounding Provost’s murder.

AVER, SLDN, the SD HRC and the San Diego Lesbian and Gay Community Center are organizing a vigil and memorial at The Center in memory of this fallen member of the military. For more information and details, e-mail at nicolemrsd@aol.com.

For the latest details regarding this murder and the vigil for Seaman August Provost, visit www.gaylesbiantimes.com.

 

The Daily Horse Comments: I first heard about the murder of Seaman August Provost  while listening to Michelangelo Signorile’s Show on SirriusXM OUTQ while driving to work around Noon Thursday, 2 July 2009. The details were sketchy, but the homicide of one of our Gay brothers had all the telltale signs of a Gay hate crime. All day I listened to local news for updates, and heard nothing. Then on the way home, I heard Larry Van Nuys a popular anchorman at KNX-AM radio, an all-news station here in Los Angeles, talking to two KNX-AM reporters who were in San Diego trying to get the details of the story. I heard the uncharacteristic outrage in Van Nuys’ voice when he was told that Provost’s partner found out about his lover’s death when a media outlet called to ask him about it. Mr. Van Nuys is a very calm, cool guy, and he’s dependably reasonable whenever he’s asking questions. But one could hear the disbelief in his voice when he heard how the partner found out about the death. Let’s hope more members of the media are as angry about this as Larry Van Nuys was. It’s a holiday weekend, so we must ensure that this does not get lost by the media. Hopefully Keith and Rachel will talk about this to the national audience.

This is so wrong on so many fronts, I’m sputtering with fury to frame a cogent thought. Like Michelangelo said on his show today, if this is the hate crime it appears to be, there’s going to be holy hell to pay. My partner is very upset, and I knew she would be, as are we all, to hear how Kaether Cordero found out about Provost’s death. Can you imagine the horror?

President Obama says, in relation to gay rights, the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and many other issues, that he wants us to end up on the “right side of history.” Given what happened to Seaman Provost, the Commander-In-Chief’s “right side of history” shroud is just another version of  President Clinton’s “I feel your pain.” 

Really? WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? History is now. History was made today. The life of August Provost is history. 

How long are we going to wait to be on the right side of history? How many more of us have to die? 


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About TT Thomas

Writer, Reader, Reviewer, Thinker, Tinker, Accumulating Amazing Things That Other People Say and Do.
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