An Inclusive Litany

9/19/00

The Nation, July 10, 2000:
In the wake of Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy's high-profile sexual harassment case against another Army general... the mainstream media have given a substantial amount of coverage to the appalling rates of sexual harassment of women in the armed forces. But you would be hard pressed to find in these news reports any mention of one of the principal spurs to this harassment: the policy on gays in the military, popularly known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"You can't separate this policy from sexual harassment," says Michelle Benecke, a former captain of US Army defense artillery—and a Harvard-trained lawyer—who is the co-founder and co-director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "A lot of the perception that women in the services are gay stems from the fact that they're not sleeping with anybody in their unit," Benecke says. "The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy pressures young women into sexual activity with their superiors by making them subject to the threat of discharge as gay."

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