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Administration Accused Of Spying On Gay Groups


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Administration Accused Of Spying On Gay Groups

by Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: December 20, 2005 1:00 pm ET

(Washington) An organization that represents gays in the military said Tuesday that it will file a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if it or other LGBT organizations have been monitored by the Bush Administration following media reports that the Pentagon has been spying on “suspicious” meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military’s "don't ask, don't tell".

Allegations of spying were first reported in the media last week. The reports said that Pentagon investigators labeled a gay kiss-in at the University of California - Santa Cruz as a "credible threat" of terrorism.

The demonstration, to protest the ban on gays in the military, was staged in front of Army, Navy and Marine Corps recruiters who were trying to interest students in careers in the military. (story)

Media outlets also reported that Pentagon had spied on New York University law school’s LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw, which the military classified as “possibly violent”.

The administration is also alleged to have spied on gay groups at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey.

"To suggest that a gay kiss-in is a ‘credible threat’ is absurd, homophobic and irrational," said Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director C. Dixon Osburn. “Students have a first amendment right to protest and Americans have a right to expect that their government will respect our constitutional right to privacy.

Osburn said that the SLDN will file the Freedom of Information Act request to see how much information the Pentagon is amassing on gays.

"The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down,” Osburn said.

In January, the Department of Defense confirmed a report that Air Force officials proposed developing a chemical weapon in 1994 that would turn enemies gay. (story)

The proposal, part of a plan from Wright Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was to develop “chemicals that effect (sic) human behavior so that discipline and morale in enemy units is adversely effected (sic). One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior.”

The Pentagon later said it never intended to develop the program.

Reports of spying on gay groups was also denounced by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The CSSMM said that the reports evokes memories of the Cold War crackdowns on gays during the McCarthy era.

"Then, as now, the government compiled lists of American citizens who were suspected of subversive activity by virtue of their association with critics of government policy. Targets included gays and members of gay or gay-friendly groups," the center said in a press statement.

David K. Johnson, a historian at University of South Florida and author of The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, the banner of “national security” has long been used as a pretext to crack down on gay rights and even to spark moral crusades against homosexuality under the guise of national defense.

His book explains that “security risk” was used throughout the Cold War to invoke “the specter of homosexuality,” which was cast as a threat to national security, and as something that “needed to be systematically removed” from the government and minimized in the culture at large.

Johnson said the Pentagon’s spying is the latest in a long history of targeting gays and lesbians as subversives, despite lacking any evidence for such a charge.

“It's no surprise,” he said. “The federal government began spying on those who challenged its discriminatory policies from the very earliest days of such activism.”

He said the FBI investigated the first organizational meeting in 1961 of what became the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest gay rights groups. Government agents took photographs in 1965 at the first gay and lesbian public demonstration in front of the White House against the military’s exclusionary policies.

“What is surprising,” he continued, “is that in nearly a half century of undercover intelligence gathering, they haven’t yet figured out that these are always peaceful, lawful protests.

©365Gay.com 2005


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