Mark Thompson, in an article in Time mag, “Gays in the Military: Does a Sailor’s Murder Signal Deeper Problems?,” muses that the murder of Seaman August Provost is a some sort of sign that the rank-and-file heterosexuals in the military are not ready to serve with openly gay and lesbian colleagues.
Even as Pentagon lawyers begin trying to ease the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibition on gays serving openly in the U.S. military, the murder last week of an apparently gay sailor at California’s Camp Pendleton has raised new questions over the readiness of the armed forces to accept openly homosexual personnel.
Seaman August Provost of Houston was shot and killed while standing nighttime guard at his base on June 30. His body was found at about 3 a.m. after his guard shack had been torched, apparently to destroy evidence surrounding his slaying, according to Navy officials. Provost was gay, according to his family, gay activists and his MySpace page, and had reportedly “come out” to some of his Navy colleagues. Two California Democratic members of Congress, Susan Davis and Bob Filner, have asked the military to investigate whether Provost’s sexual orientation was the reason for his murder. Local gay activists have also asked for such a probe, and are planning a candlelight vigil outside Camp Pendleton’s gates this Friday, several hours after memorial services for Provost are to be held in Texas.
…The Navy has said there is no indication that the 28-year-old sailor was the target of a hate crime, but officials also decline to specify a suspected motive. “As it stands right now, we have no indication that there is any tie to what may or may not have been his sexuality,” a senior Navy officer in San Diego said Monday afternoon. This officer expressed frustration with blog and media reports saying Provost had been brutalized — in addition to being shot. “He did suffer gunshot wounds, and there was a fire in a pretty clear attempt to destroy evidence,” he said. “But he was not bound, he was not gagged and he was not mutilated.” At least two suspects — both sailors — have been questioned. One remains in custody and is expected to be charged.
This is madness. There are many stories of gay and lesbian servicemembers already serving openly, with their colleagues and commanding officers ignoring DADT. The problem with the Provost murder is not his sexual orientation, but the fact that the military may have someone with extreme homicidal tendencies within its ranks that directed them at Provost. After all, the Pentagon has allowed the number of felons, gang members and white supremacists to make its recruiting numbers; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that this would cause problem, if not in this specific case, other ones. And the murder victim’s sexual orientation is not a reason to keep gays and lesbians from serving, it’s a matter of prosecuting those who harass, maim and kill.
Vigil for Navy Seaman August Provost on Friday, July 10th
A candlelight vigil will take place on Friday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. The vigil will be held just outside of Camp Pendleton, at the corner of Monterey Drive and North Coast Highway. The Imperial Court de San Diego has provided financial support this vigil. Additionally, Organizers are calling upon communities outside of San Diego County to hold vigils in their cities at the same day and time.
Those who live in the central and southern parts of San Diego County are encouraged and invited to meet on the day of the event at 5:30 p.m. at the San Diego LGBT Community Center and caravan as part of a ceremonial “funeral procession” and head towards Camp Pendleton. Activists across Southern California will be organizing processions from other parts of Southern California as a showing of support for Provost and his family, and to encourage large numbers of people to attend. Organizers of the May “Meet in the Middle For Equality” event based in Fresno, CA have sent a call out to their networks in support of this event, and will be organizing groups of people to travel to San Diego from the Central California region.