August Provost | Crime | Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Congressman Suspects Seaman's Murder a Hate Crime

SafariScreenSnapz002 Rep. Bob Filner (D) of California was at Camp Pendleton just six hours after Seaman August Provost was murdered, but no mention was made to him of the crime. He finds that suspicious and accuses the military of habitually not "telling the truth" when it comes to potential hate crimes. "There are indications" he was killed for being gay, according to Filner and Provost's family. Provost had complained of being harassed by fellow personnel and was openly gay to most people around him.

Navy spokesman Lt. Kyle Raines, Navy Region Southwest tells CNN:

"There are no indications that the body of Seaman Provost was bound, gagged or mutilated as some media have reported. There was a fire set in an effort to cover up evidence. The specific cause of death will be addressed once the autopsy report and toxicology reports have been completed. There was a person who was initially held as a person of interest. He is no longer being held. There is now a second sailor who was not previously identified to the media who has been linked to the commission of the crime through both physical evidence and his own statement. The second sailor is being held. His name has not been released."

SafariScreenSnapz003 Filner hammers home, in the above CNN report, that Don't Ask, Don't Tell and "gay hostility" may have contributed to Provost's murder. He also points out that when Provost was killed, his partner (identified as "the love of my life" on his MySpace page) was never notified by authorities because he was not recognized as a legitimate next of kin, also due to DADT.

Another reason why a full repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell should be a top priority.

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Comments

  1. Mr. Towle, with all due respect, this likely hate crime should be seen in a broader context beyond DADT. I think it foolish and dangerous to assume this would not happen if only DADT had been repealed earlier this year.

    Who serves in the ranks? Inner city black and brown kids and white blue-collar rust belt and rural kids, often from fundie households. Not exactly a well educated, NPR listening, PBS watching crowd, is it? The inner city kids come from a misogynist hyper-masculine, and all too often, thug culture rife with homophobia (and some of their black preachers play a role too). The whites, having few openly gay men in their life experience associate homosexuality with weakness and effeminacy. Many heard slurs at the dinner table in childhood. To think that if DADT is revoked the military will become, like a scene from a Disney film, a tolerant place of chirping birds and cuddly rabbits (think Bambi) is fatuous. A repeal without a more general evolution of thinking in our culture as a whole places people at terrible risk. I don't pretend to have the answer but DADT repeal is not the panacea some of you think it is.

    Posted by: Contrarian | Jul 3, 2009 5:31:30 PM


  2. Towleroad wouldn't be Towleroad without a Contrarian! I just wanted to say that I'm taking over Towleroad for Andy for the next week while he's on a hard-earned break. I thank you for the comment and wanted to say I didn't mean to suggest DADT would be a cure-all, just that this situation could not have been helped by its existence (specifically the aspect of Seaman Provost's partner not being notified). Thanks—Matt

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jul 3, 2009 5:49:30 PM


  3. Contrarian: sigh...you have a pretty dim view of inner city kids, huh? is your expertise on "inner city black and brown kids" purely anecdotal or based on some form of research. i suppose that the same questions apply to the rust belt kids, but you seem to treat their "plight" with more compassion.

    Posted by: Trey | Jul 3, 2009 6:24:09 PM


  4. Actually, Contrarian, despite the disingenuousness or ignorance [pick your poison] of Obama and his dinosaur masters in Jurassic Park er the Pentagon, there already is an answer...already paid for by tax dollars....whose mission it is to prevent conflicts between different groups in the military.

    The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute started as the Defense Race Relations Institute when racial conflicts on bases boiled over in the 1970s [including all-out race riots at Travis Air Force Base] because the military was not keeping up with the changing civilian times and blacks entering the forces would no longer put up with blatant discrimination and harassment while too many whites were allowed to manifest the civilian racism they brought with them.

    Investigations showed that....wait for it...the biggest problem was exactly what Obama declared in 2007 was the biggest obstacle to overturning DADT: lack of leadership. Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin emphasized just last week that repeal would only happen if the President too an active, forceful role in demanding it.

    Until the creation of the DEOMI, commanders tolerated or even encouraged racism and discrimination in the barracks, in military job assignments and advancement.

    DEOMI has since expanded its charter to include education programs and discrimination monitoring in relation to women in the military, antiSemitism, political extremism, and, since 9/11, anti Muslim attitudes.

    It could easily add issues related to out gay integration to its programs. The irony is that the last job of the first servicemember to challenge the ban THIRTY-FOUR YEARS AGO, Tech. Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, was as a "Race Relations Instructor," so good that he coached other instructors and people in Carter's Justice Department tried unsuccessfully to convince the Air Force to hire him as a civilian "gay rights" instructor.

    Yes, while even without such programs over 70% of servicemembers polled say they’re comfortable around gays, there will continue to be some hardshell homophobes in the military, just as some hardshell racists and sexists remain decades after the military was racially and gender integrated, but, with rare exception, racism in the ranks is dealt with quickly and forcefully [Sexism still has quite a ways to go].

    Too few realize that the official policy is “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass.” "DH" was added after the murder by Louisville Slugger of perceived-gay Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell in Kentucky ten years ago this Sunday. The commanding officer there was WRONGLY exonerated of failing to suppress the systemic homophobia at Campbell where even at least one superior officer at been reported for referring to Winchell as a "faggot."

    Another result of the Winchell murder was Clinton's issuing Executive Order 13140 that added a hate crimes enhancement to the Universal Code of Military Injustice. Yes, that's right, in the upside down world of DADT, military gays technically have more protections than civilian gays.

    But in the ensuing decade there are multiple documented instances where "Don't Harass" is not enforced by superior officers. If homophobia did play a role in Provost's murder, it obviously wasn't adequately being enforced at Pendleton.

    What changed the military from an institution of racism to a model of equal opportunity was not “changing hearts” as Obama cooed on Monday but that performance reviews of supervisory officers in the military now include ratings on adherence to nondiscrimination policies. Whatever his/her personal feelings about other races, religions, or women in the military they know they will NOT be promoted if they aren't following those policies.

    Again, leadership and discipline are the solution for nipping any serious potential conflict in the proverbial bud. If Obama would stop singing Kumbaya and tell his generals that cessation of gay discharges by whatever means must be accompanied by an iron-fist enforced non-harassment policy and that THEIR CAREERS and those of everyone down the line depend on its successful implementation you can bet your GI Joe doll that it will happen quickly. And the first officer demoted for failing to do it will make any other foot-dragging officer change overnight.

    L E A D E R S H I P!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Jul 3, 2009 6:44:44 PM


  5. why is it that whenever a gay is killed it's assumed a hate crime? perhaps you should get the facts first...

    Posted by: paul | Jul 3, 2009 7:34:21 PM


  6. Contrarian, why was it so important to poing out "Black ministers" , yet, you failed to say "white ministers"? Small , yet, telling point about your ideas on race.

    Further, why are Black kids "thugs" and white kids hear disparaging remarks "around the dinner table"? I assume you mean Ward and June are talking shit about fags while serving up Tuesdays "Attsa My Turkey" from the back pages of Good Housekeeping?

    Your patronizing (borderline racist) attitude is not contrarian at all.

    It's rather typical.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Jul 3, 2009 9:29:03 PM


  7. Wow.

    My nephew is 1) Not a thug 2) Is rather goofy, actually 3) Had a 3.5 GPA and college scholarships 4) Decided to go into the armed forces because he wanted to see the world. 5) He picked his own church to go to. 6) He will flatten anyone's ass in a minute if anyone says anything to out of the way about his gay uncle.

    He wants to stay out of school for an indefinite period of time.

    Contrarian, thank you for calling my nephew some inner city hyper masculinr thug, cracka bitch.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jul 3, 2009 9:53:05 PM


  8. Camp Pendleton 's refusal to mention the homicide to Rep. Bob Filner should raise alarm in any context. He's absolutely correct to criticize DADT for fostering the atmosphere of lies and furtiveness that clearly contributed to August Provost's death and its aftermath.

    It's also completely disgusting that his partner had to find out about his murder on cable news.

    DADT is a horror show. It must be repealed.

    Posted by: elcamino | Jul 4, 2009 1:38:39 AM


  9. @ Contrarian,

    Personally, I've found city folk, no matter what part of the city they come from (or what color they are), are overall waaaay more enlightened and liberal. Every day from birth onward city people rub shoulders with a wide range of races, creeds, colors, nationalities, languages, races, genders, and sexual orientation and most get along with their neighbors (whether they like them or not). Since moving to the big (southern) city I *personally* have not heard hardly a word of negativity about my sexual orientation (not to say they didn't pass a gay marriage ban). Our police (unlike Ft Worth) take crimes against LGBT seriously and investigate them accordingly.

    However, in the small town I left, which was 90% white and middle class, I got shit all the time. My family was looked down on as pretty trashy because some of us 1.) lived in trailers 2.) had non-white children 3.) were single parents 4.) or poor 4.) gayer than a tote-bag full of rainbows. 5.) Atheist. This was a town that had very low church attendance and most people would consider themselves not very religious, but I (and the rest of the family) got crap all the time for being atheist.

    Since moving to a city, which has as many, if not more, minorities than whites who come from very religious backgrounds, I have suffered very little discrimination (and no harassment yet) compared to what I did when I lived in that small, very white, college town. The only draw back is that they do have a tendency to invite you to church (or mosque)....but you can politely decline with out harming anyone's feelings (with exception to the Mormons who don't know when to quit).

    Posted by: Wheezy | Jul 4, 2009 10:51:22 AM


  10. p.s.

    My family has also served in the military. Some were drafted, but most volunteered. Why? Because, they wanted to see the world outside their rinky-dink town and have the opportunity to better themselves by attending college on the GI College bill. And while all of them are a bit rough around the edges, none of them are thugs and none of them would tolerate discrimination or bullying (in or out of uniform).

    Posted by: Wheezy | Jul 4, 2009 10:59:41 AM


  11. Thank you Michael! Clearly repealing DADT wont end violence against LGBT military personnel, but enacting tough laws to combat acts of violence will. I am reminded of a series of trials a number of years ago concerning allegations of sexual harassment by female enlisted personnel against male commanding officers. When the trials were over several officers faced court martial or a reduction in rank or both. Following the outcome of these trials incidents of sexual harassment dropped dramactically. A common sense approach is called for enacting and enforcing tough laws that insure that acts of violence will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

    Posted by: robert ryan | Jul 4, 2009 2:37:09 PM


  12. I have always held the position that we have let Military/Politicians/News Orgs/Friends and Family use the term "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" instead of it's true name, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass”, and THAT truncation of the term has caused more problems than anyone ever imagined...leading to another gay person being killed.

    Without the FULL TITLE used when speaking of "DADT' the two most inmportant parts "Don't Pursue and Don't Harrass" have been ignored totally.

    "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" seems like child's play.

    "Don't Pursue, Don't Harrass" are the parts of the policy that refers DIRECTLY TO STRAIGHTS and THEIR RESPONSIBILITY.

    Out of site, out of mind????

    Please, in the future, use the WHOLE TERM. Not a part of it. Remind others.


    My sympathies to the family of Mr. Provost, and his Boyfriend as well.

    P.S. WE MUST ALL DEMAND TO KNOW THE NAME OF THE MURDERER. AS LONG AS WE DON'T KNOW IT, THE MILITARY COULD BE EXPUNGING HIS RECORD, BOTH AS A SOLDIER AND AS A CIVILIAN!

    Posted by: Roger Ramjet | Jul 4, 2009 5:10:22 PM


  13. This would have gotten a lot more Gay news push if he was a White guy.

    The Gay community can not move ahead until there is unity. There is so much racism in the Gay community. It not blatant but look at this...12 comments. If the news reports are true this guy was killed because he was Gay. Hello where is the outrage, where is Michelangelo Signorile, Dan Savage et all.

    I was asked once if I were Gay first of Black first. Well the Gay community that thinks I'm not needed unless I'm in a drag queen outfit answers the questioned for me.

    Thank you

    Posted by: db | Jul 5, 2009 10:12:12 PM


  14. article on the funeral--

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6524129.html

    Posted by: tim | Jul 11, 2009 1:10:21 PM


  15. by the way, this article was posted in the Houston Chronicle website @ 10:40am Satuday, July 11

    Posted by: tim | Jul 11, 2009 1:13:09 PM


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