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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Says Ban on Lesbians and Gay Men Causes Sexual Harassment; Renews Calls For End to Discriminatory Policy For IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 27, 1993 WASHINGTON -- Stressing that the military's ban against lesbians and gay men encourages sexual harassment of military women, the American Civil Liberties Union today renewed its call for the abolishment of the ban. The ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project joined several women's groups today in supporting President Clinton's promise to end the military's discrimination against lesbians and gay men. The organizations announced their position at a Washington news conference. Speaking on behalf of the ACLU, Michelle M. Benecke, a former Army Air Defense Artillery Officer, said that independent studies of military discharges against women show that during the past 12 years, military women increasingly have been subjected to "lesbian-baiting," which, she said, "gains its legitimacy and power through the anti-gay policy." "Lesbian-baiting," Benecke explained, "is the well-recognized practice of pressuring or sexually blackmailing women through calling, or threatening to call them, lesbians." What often happens, Benecke continued, is that women who rebuff sexual advances from their colleagues are then rumored to be lesbians. Once these rumors reach commanding officers, investigations or witchhunts are started against the woman, often leading to her resignation from the service. "The most frequent targets of witchhunts are competent, assertive and athletic women," she said. "And a woman who files complaints about such harassment often finds that her chain-of-command either is unresponsive or responds by initiating an investigation against the woman herself, presuming incorrectly that only lesbians are lesbian-baited. "Not surprisingly, many women opt either to accede to sexual demands or backtrack from the assertiveness that makes them targets of sexual blackmail rather than inform their chain-of-command," Benecke said. Benecke concluded by saying that sexual harassment against women in the military will be significantly reduced once the ban on lesbians and gay men is lifted. "The harm done to all women by the continued ban on lesbians and gay men should, at the least, be recognized as a legitimate reason for ending this discriminatory policy," she said. "To do otherwise, is to lend our government's approval to sexual harassment." --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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