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HRC, SLDN WELCOME NAVY RESPONSE TO ANTI-GAY GRAFFITO ON BOMB

No Time for Intolerance, Says HRC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network welcomed a letter from the Navy received today by HRC that called an anti-gay epithet written on a Navy bomb "inappropriate" and stated "steps were taken to prevent a recurrence of this unfortunate incident."

"The letter was a welcome clarification and we are pleased the Navy has stated that this type of anti-gay behavior has no place in our armed forces," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "We are appreciative they have actively taken steps to end anti-gay episodes such as this at a time when our nation needs to be united against the new and dangerous threats we face."

"Harassment in any form detracts from mission readiness," said C. Dixon Osburn, SLDN's executive director. "We appreciate the Navy's pledge to curb harassment, especially at a time when it needs all service members to focus on our fight against terrorism."

Last week, an Associated Press photographer took a picture of a bomb on the USS Enterprise that had the words "High Jack [sic] this Fags" scrawled on it. The AP moved the photo on its wires, only to remove it hours later amid complaints. Birch telephoned the Navy to express her concerns and today received a letter from the Navy condemning what it called an "isolated incident."

"We immediately notified Navy commanders involved with Operation Enduring Freedom to ensure steps were taken to prevent a recurrence of this unfortunate incident," Rear Admiral S.R. Pietropaoli wrote to Birch. "The U.S. Navy does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. I sincerely hope this isolated incident will not detract from the hard work and dedication of thousands of sailors and Marines serving our nation in this war on terrorism."

The photo showing the anti-gay graffito can be found on the web at:
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/p/ap/20011011/wl/1002789017attacks_military_xent191.html

The Human Rights Campaign is the nation's largest lesbian and gay political organization, with members throughout the country. HRC effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be safe at home, at work and in the community.

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