By Bob Roehr
The promotion of controversial general Robert T. Clark is on hold again. The nomination was reported out of the Senate Armed Services Committee on a voice vote in late October. It had been in limbo for more than a year because of his role as commander of Fort Campbell, Kentucky when PFC Barry Winchell was murdered in an antigay incident.
Now an unnamed Senator has placed a “hold” on the nomination, which has the procedural effect of preventing a vote on Clark’s promotion.
Three Democratic members of Armed Services – Senators Daniel Akaka, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy – had asked that their opposition to Clark’s nomination be recorded for the record within the Committee. However, they have denied placing the hold on the nomination.
In return, an anonymous Republican Senator has placed a hold on all pending military promotions. It is part of the very high level of partisan acrimony that has enveloped Capitol Hill and all pending legislation in the waning days of this session of Congress.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director C. Dixon Osburn continues to express the view that Clark’s record “does not merit approval by the full Senate.” Most observers believe that the hold is temporary and Clark will be approved before Congress adjourns for the year.
On Veterans’ Day, thirty miles to the east at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, graduates petitioned to establish the first gay and lesbian alumni association for a military service academy. It would be called USNA Out.
Jeff Petrie, a 1989 graduate of the Academy and now retired from the Navy, has assembled a group of 29 fellow graduates as part of the effort. All are retired officers because those who are on active duty would run the risk of being kicked out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He expects that some active duty officers will join anonymously.
A Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Association was formed in 1991 within the broader GALA structure of gay alumni groups. It draws about 150 members from the five service academies, though it is not recognized by any of those institutions.
“I believe one of the most helpful actions we can take for the schools we still love is to lend our wealth of various experiences to an eventual Naval Academy effort directed toward better integrating gay students,” Petrie said. He now lives in San Francisco.
A spokesman for the USNA alumni association said the request would be forwarded to the board of directors for consideration.
In New Jersey, federal judge John C. Lifland ruled on motions in a trial challenging the “Solomon Amendment.” That legislation empowers the Secretary of Defense to deny federal funds to colleges and universities that do not allow ROTC or military recruiters on campus.
Judge Lifland denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case but he also denied the plaintiff’s request to issue an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the legislation pending the outcome of the trial. He said, “The presence of the military on campus does not significantly intrude upon the law schools’ ability to express their views.”