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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 21, 2003
 9:56 PM
CONTACT: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Communications Department 323-857-8751
Action Alert! Oppose Bush Nomination of Major General Clark
 
WASHINGTON - October 21 - Today, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force joined the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) in once again opposing the Bush Administration's re-nomination of Major General Robert T. Clark to Lieutenant General, the Army's second highest rank.

"This is yet another example of the Bush Administration cramming unqualified individuals down the throats of the American people in order to appease his rabidly anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-immigration base," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. "While the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is in and of itself flawed, MG Clark's documented failure to order required training on how to address anti-gay harassment is cause for great concern. The military should not be about perpetuating discrimination within its ranks, which under the leadership of Robert T. Clark we might expect given the history of his tenure."

For more information, please read the following press release and action alert from SLDN:

October 21, 2003, Contact: SLDN, Steve Ralls

(202) 328-3244, ext. 116 / sralls@sldn.org

Senate Likely to Vote on Promotion of Major General Whose Command Included Murder, Domestic Abuse, Harassment & Record Discharges

Senators Question MG Clark's Leadership, Says He "Still Doesn't Get It;"

Retired Military Leaders Oppose Nomination

Washington, DC - Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has learned that a vote on the controversial nomination of Major General Robert T. Clark is expected on Thursday following a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30am. If MG Clark's nomination is approved by the Committee, he will face a vote by the full Senate concerning his promotion to Lieutenant General, the Army's second highest rank. A Senate confirmation would place Clark in command of the Fifth United States Army, based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

In 2002, the Armed Services Committee elected not to act on the nomination due to serious concerns about MG Clark's leadership before and after the murder of PFC Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Winchell was beaten to death by fellow soldiers who believed he was gay. In the weeks and months following Winchell's murder, SLDN revealed evidence that MG Clark failed to curb a virulent anti-gay atmosphere on his base, including pervasive harassment of perceived gay and lesbian soldiers and anti-gay graffiti on base.

A Department of Army Inspector General report found that MG Clark failed to order required training on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or on how to address anti-gay harassment. The report shows other troubling facts about MG Clark's tenure at the post, including command-wide low morale; inadequate delivery of health care to soldiers and their families; and wide-spread, leader-condoned underage drinking in the barracks. Under Clark's leadership, and due to a gay discharge policy he implemented, Fort Campbell recorded the highest number of lesbian, gay and bisexual discharges at any military installation worldwide. According to 60 Minutes, the base also saw an alarming spike in domestic abuse cases.

MG Clark issued no statements against anti-gay harassment, refused to speak with or meet the parents of PFC Winchell for four years after their son's death. He also failed to reassure base soldiers that anti-gay harassment would not be tolerated, leading Senators to question President Bush's nomination.

"There is compelling evidence that there were problems at this base," Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Armed Services Committee, recently told NBC Nightly News. Other Senators told NBC that, in private meetings, "MG Clark portrayed himself as the victim, claiming his character was being maligned," leading one Republican Senator to confide that, "The General still doesn't get it."

"The question before the Armed Services Committee is whether Major General Clark lived up to his responsibilities to my son, and the sons and daughters under his watch," said Patricia Kutteles, PFC Winchell's mother. "The answer is no. He failed to stop harassment under his watch. Beyond the courts-martial, he failed to hold a single soldier accountable for the dangerous atmosphere on his base. He failed to take even the most basic steps - such as ensuring 911 emergency services - to protect his soldiers. His nomination should be rejected."

A dozen retired senior military leaders also called on the Armed Services Committee to reject the nomination. In a letter released today, the officers note that Clark "is not suited for promotion to a position of increased responsibility." The officers go on to say that, "One lesson every commander learns . . . is that he or she is responsible for every action under his or her command . . . . MG Clark should not be rewarded with a promotion."

A coalition of military, veterans and civil liberties organizations led by SLDN have also called on Senators to oppose the nomination. The Democratic National Committee, People for the American Way, the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, American Veterans for Equal Rights, the Transgender American Veterans Association and Michigan's Triangle Institute have joined Mrs. Kutteles and SLDN in their opposition.

"Promotion should be based on an exemplary record of service to our men and women in uniform," said SLDN Executive Director C. Dixon Osburn. "Major General Clark, through his actions surrounding PFC Winchell's murder, failed that test. There are many leaders more qualified to assume command of the Fifth U.S. Army. The Senate Armed Services Committee should insist President Bush find a better candidate for this prestigious post."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and related forms of intolerance.

ACTION ALERT!

Oppose the Nomination of MG Robert T. Clark

Please call the United States Senate today and ask your Senator to vote against MG Robert T. Clark's promotion, which is currently before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to act soon on President Bush's nomination of MG Robert T. Clark for promotion to Lieutenant General. A decision regarding the nomination could come as early as Thursday.

MG Clark was commanding general at Fort Campbell, Ky., in 1999 when PFC Barry Winchell was harassed and subsequently beaten to death with a baseball bat by two fellow soldiers who thought Winchell was gay. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has again called on the Senate Armed Services Committee to oppose Clark's nomination. (Other national and state groups opposing MG Clark's nomination include the DNC, HRC, PFAW, NOW, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, American Veterans for Equal Rights, the Transgender American Veterans Association and Michigan's Triangle Institute.) Serious evidence indicates that MG Clark did not do enough, either before or after PFC Winchell's murder, to protect his troops and curb the anti-gay environment so prevalent on his base. (Full details regarding SLDN's opposition to MG Clark's nomination are available online at www.sldn.org).

Anti-gay harassment is widespread in our armed forces, according to the Pentagon's own survey of troops. Promoting a general who tolerated such harassment sends the wrong message to every command. Please contact Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-VA) and Ranking Member Carl Levin (D-MI) and ask that they vote NO on Clark's nomination.

Senator John Warner (R-VA)

Phone: (202) 224-2023

Fax: (202) 224-6295

Email Online: http://warner.senate.gov/contact/contactme.htm

 

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)

Phone: (202) 224-6221

Fax: (202) 224-1388

Email: levin.senate.gov/contact.htm

 

And, if your Senator is on the Armed Services Committee (listed below), please also ask that they oppose MG Clark's promotion.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI)

Phone: (202) 224-6361

Fax: (202) 224-2126

Email: senator@akaka.senate.gov

 

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO)

Phone: (202) 224-5941

Fax: (2020 224-6471

Email: allard.senate.gov/contactme

 

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)

Phone: (202) 224-5623

Fax: (202) 228-1377

Email: senator@bayh.senate.gov

 

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)

Phone: (202) 224-3521

Fax: (202) 224-0103

Email: saxby_chambliss@chambliss.senate.gov

 

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

Phone: (202) 224-4451

Fax: (202) 228-0282

Email: http://clinton.senate.gov/email_form.html

 

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)

Phone: (202) 224-2523

Fax: (202) 224-2693

Email: senator@collins.senate.gov

 

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

Phone: (202) 224-2934

Email: cornyn.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

 

Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)

Phone: (202) 224-3244

Fax: (202) 228-2186

Email Online: http://dayton.senate.gov/webform.html

 

Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)

Phone: (202) 224-6342

Fax: (202) 224-1100

Email: dole.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactMe.Home

 

Senator John Ensign (R-NV)

Phone: (202) 224-6244

Fax: (202) 228-2193

Email: ensign.senate.gov/contact_john/contactjohn_email.html

 

Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC)

Phone: (202) 227-5927

Fax: (202) 224-1189

Email: lgraham.senate.gov/email/email.htm

 

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

Phone: (202) 224-4543

Fax: (202) 224-2417

Email: senator@kennedy.senate.gov

 

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)

Phone: (202) 224-4041

Fax: (202) 224-4041

Email: senator_lieberman@lieberman.senate.gov

 

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

Phone: (202) 224-2235

Fax: (202) 228-2862

Email: john_mccain@mccain.senate.gov

 

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)

Phone: (202) 224-6551

Fax: (202) 228-0012

Email: bennelson.senate.gov/email.html

 

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Phone: (202) 224-5274

Fax: (202) 228-2183

Email: http://billnelson.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm

 

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)

Phone: (202) 224-2353

Fax: (202) 228-0908

Email: pryor.senate.gov/email_webform.htm

 

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

Phone: (202) 224-4642

Fax: (202) 224-4680

Email: http://reed.senate.gov/form-opinion.htm

 

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Phone: (202) 224-4124

Fax: (202) 224-3149

Email: senator@sessions.senate.gov

 

Senator James Talent (R-MO)

Phone: (202) 224-6154

Fax: (202) 228-1518

Email: talent.senate.gov/contact/index.html

 

 

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