Panelists Rail Against U.S. Military Ban on Gays

A panel of experts familiar with both gay issues and the U.S. armed forces last night condemned the military's policy of excluding homosexuals from military service at a forum in the Kennedy School of Government.

The Institute of Politics forum, called "Lesbians and Gays in Uniform: Implications' of the U.S. Military's Homosexual Exclusion Policy," came on the eve of a report to the Faculty Council on campus ROTC--the focus at Harvard of debate about the military ban on gays (see related story).

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) spoke about the political future of the ban, saying that a Democrat in the White House would quickly move to repeal it.

If President Bush wins re-election, Frank said, the gay community must Continue to exert pressure as it has in the past.

Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, the state chief nurse for the Washington National Guard, spoke about her experiences as a lesbian in the military.


Cammermeyer's sexual orientation first became an issue in 1989, she said, when she needed a top secret security clearance. An interrogation that should have lasted 45 minutes dragged on for five hours, she said.

"I had a sinking feeling that my military career was over. I felt pretty alone and vulnerable," Cammermeyer said.

She was later asked to resign from her position, but refused to do so.

"I want to demonstrate that sexual orientation has nothing to do with anyone's ability to serve their country," she said.

Sandra Lowe, director of the New York state Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns, called the ban antithetical to the principles of the United States government.

"[The military's policy on homosexuality] is not only a violation of equal protection, but also a violation of every promise this country has given," said.

Frank, who is openly gay, called the military's stand on the issue of homosexuality "hypocritical."

Frank dismissed the military's arguments on behalf of the policy.

"It's not AIDS; it's not security," said Frank, referring to two explanations that have been given by military and federal officials for the policy.

"They not only have no good reasons for the policy, they have no bad reasons. They have no reasons at all," Frank said. and Dr. Lawrence Korb, former assistantsecretary of defense for main power, reserveaffairs and logistics, implied that an end to theban might be forthcoming.

"I think [military officials] know in theirheart of hearts that they can't defend [thepolicy] in any logical way," said Dr. LawrenceKorb,

"Their idea of the perfect army is white, maleand heterosexual.A From Here to Eternityarmy is the ideal they have," Korb said