April 8, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
National news in brief

Anna Paquin, the 27-year-old star of ‘True Blood,’ came out last week as bisexual in a video published on wegiveadamn.org. In the video, which draws attention to the threats and inequalities that LGBT people face, Paquin notes that, ‘one hate crime is committed approximately every hour of every day in this country.’ (Image courtesy of wegiveadamn.org)

Army secretary retracts comments on ‘Don’t Ask’

WASHINGTON — Army Secretary John McHugh has retracted comments he made that the new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regulations constitute a moratorium on discharges and that he wouldn’t pursue soldiers who came out to him.

“I was incorrect when I stated that [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates had placed a moratorium on discharges of homosexual service members,” he said in a statement. “There is no moratorium of the law and neither Secretary Gates nor I would support one.”

The changes to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” unveiled last month by Gates, limit third-party outings by requiring such information to be given under oath, and raise the rank of the officers handling inquiries and discharges.

But until Congress repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” McHugh said the statute “remains the law of the land” and that he and the Army “will fulfill our obligation to uphold it.”

According to the New York Times, McHugh told reporters last week it would be “counterproductive” to “take disciplinary action against someone who spoke with me openly and honestly.” He was quoted as saying he had no intention of pursuing the discharges of active duty service members who recently told him that they are gay.

McHugh clarified the comments in his later statement, saying it would have been better for him to have counseled three soldiers who came out to him that “statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated as confidential and could result in their separation under the law.”

McHugh said he couldn’t identify the soldiers who disclosed their sexual orientation because of “the informal and random manner in which these engagements occurred.” He noted that he would not formally pursue the matter.

General apologizes for remarks on gays in Dutch military

WASHINGTON — A retired general who supports “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has apologized for remarks blaming gays in the Dutch military for a Bosnian massacre.

In a March 29 letter obtained by DC Agenda and other media outlets, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Sheehan says he’s sorry for testifying before the Senate that open service in the Dutch military contributed to the Srebrenica massacre in 1995.

During testimony last month before Congress, Sheehan said he heard from Dutch chief-of-staff General Henk van den Breemen of the Royal Dutch Marine Corps that allowing gays to serve openly in the Dutch military — which Sheehan called part of the liberalization of the country’s armed forces — contributed to the inability of the Netherlands to prevent the execution of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys during the massacre.

But in the letter to van den Breeman, Sheehan acknowledges he misstated before the congressional committee the Dutch official’s understanding of the situation and apologizes.

“I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military,” Sheehan says. “It is also regrettable that I allowed you to be pulled into a public debate.”

Sheehan also writes he doesn’t believe Srebrenica was “the fault of the individual soldiers” serving in the Dutch military at the time.

“Unfortunately, the rules of engagement were developed by a political system with conflicting priorities and an ambivalent understanding of how to use the military,” he said. “As we know, the consequences of those compromises were devastating.”

Gay former pro wrestler found dead

NEW YORK — A man recognized as among the first openly gay professional wrestlers was found dead April 2 in his New York City apartment.

The Associated Press reported that 40-year-old Chris Klucsaritis, who wrestled under the name Chris Kanyon, apparently committed suicide. A note was recovered.

Klucsaritis began his career in the late 1990s and was part of the championship tag team “Men at Work” before joining World Wrestling Entertainment. He retired in 2004.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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