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SLDN Calls for Immediate Action in Alleged Case of Hate Crime by Marines

For immediate release:
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Contact: Zeke Stokes at
202-621-5406 or zeke@sldn.org

SLDN’s Sarvis Calls for Immediate Action, Thorough Command Climate Review in Alleged Case of Hate Crime by Camp Pendleton Marines

(Washington, DC) Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis today called on Brigadier General Vincent Coglianese to take swift action following confirmed news reports that four United States Marines under his command at Camp Pendleton were arrested for severely beating a civilian man they perceived to be gay.

“While the alleged actions of these Marines may be an isolated incident, there is an immediate need for forceful and corrective action to ensure that all Marines at Camp Pendleton know that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will not be tolerated in any form, and that all Marines should feel safe regardless of their sexual orientation,” Sarvis writes in a letter sent today to the Brigadier General.

According to reports, the four accused Marines sought out a gay bar and went in to have several drinks. They eventually began taunting patrons with homophobic slurs before settling on an individual to physically assault. The Marines allegedly beat the victim, who was there with his boyfriend, until he passed out. An employee at the bar attempted to intervene in the assault, but the violence reportedly continued until police arrived.

“This targeting of a gay civilian because of his sexual orientation is very troubling, and statements made by the police indicate that the incident may result in hate crimes prosecutions. We urge you to ensure that there is a thorough investigation of these serious allegations. We also urge you to undergo a comprehensive review of the command climate at Camp Pendleton,” Sarvis writes in the letter.

“It should be clear in every command that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unacceptable in the United States Marine Corps. Should a thorough investigation reveal that there was criminal behavior on the part of these Marines, or if the command climate needs correction, we are confident you will take the appropriate action to send an unambiguous message to all in command,” the letter concludes.

To view the full text of the letter, click here

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. Since 1993, our in-house legal team has responded to more than 11,500 requests for assistance. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.

 

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