Under General’s Command, Unchecked Harassment Ended in Anti-Gay Murder of Soldier
The full U.S. Senate today promoted Major General Robert T. Clark to the rank of Lieutenant General in command of the Fifth U.S. Army, expanding his command responsibilities despite concerns raised by Clark’s record as commanding officer at Fort Campbell, Ky. During Clark’s tenure at Fort Campbell, PFC Barry Winchell was repeatedly and blatantly harassed in violation of the Army’s strict guidelines, and ultimately was killed in a brutal, anti-gay attack.
In aftermath of Winchell’s murder, Major General Clark failed to denounce the harassment prevalent at the base, and allowed anti-gay graffiti, cadences and rhetoric to continue unabated. Further, according to the Army’s own Inspector General’s report, Major General Clark failed to order any training on the military’s harassment policy.
People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas expressed his disappointment in General Clark’s promotion and called for the implementation of accountability measures to avoid future tragedies.
“This is an issue of civil rights. Major General Robert Clark’s inaction, and resulting abdication of responsibility, should have been condemned, not rewarded with a promotion. He presided over a command environment in which anti-gay harassment and violence were rampant and tolerated at the highest levels of Fort Campbell’s leadership. Major General Clark was the commander, and he failed to take responsibility for the anti-gay climate that prevailed before and even after Barry Winchell’s death.
“Now, General Robert Clark has been given even greater responsibility. We call on him, and on the Army leadership, to ensure that anti-gay harassment, hostility and violence will not be tolerated at any level of the military, and they must promise that the Army leadership, including General Clark, must be held fully accountable for the safety of the men and women who serve under their command.”