The Washington Post's Well-Meant Homophobia

Very recently, another American soldier was killed in Iraq:

Maj. Alan Rogers, 40, a gay intelligence officer who served on a military transition team that trained Iraqi soldiers, died Jan. 27 in Baghdad from wounds caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near him while he was conducting a patrol on his Humvee. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on March 14.

For sacrificing his life in the line of duty, the Army posthumously awarded Rogers a Purple Heart and a second Bronze Star.

In the light of the US military's continuing discrimination against gay servicemembers, it seems very relevant to me that Rogers' sexual orientation - about which there is no doubt - be included in coverage of his death and obituaries. And yet the mainstream media decided to enforce that closet - and perpetuate the military's policy - even after Rogers's ultimate sacrifice:

The Washington Post, National Public Radio and the Gainesville Sun, the local newspaper in his hometown of Hampton, Fla., made no mention of his sexual orientation or his involvement with a group that works to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Lynn Medford, Metro editor for the Post, said the newspaper debated whether or not to disclose Rogers’ sexual orientation and ultimately decided not to include such information as a matter of ethics.

Rogers to some degree “kept his orientation private” and outing him after his death would “take a decision out of his hands,” she said. Rogers had no partner and no immediate family to consult with to determine what his wishes would be, Medford noted.

The only reason Rogers was even semi-closeted to his peers was to protect his career in the military. As treasurer of an organization to end the military ban and with countless sources testifying to his sexual orientation, the decision of the Post and NPR to enforce the closet even after his death cannot be expained except by a view that somehow being gay is shameful or private. I can see why outing someone who is alive and closeted is unethical; inning someone who is dead and was out is a function of utterly misplaced sensitivity, rooted in well-intentioned but incontrovertible homophobia.

We already persecute these gay heroes when risking their lives for their country. For the MSM to maintain the shame, stigma and persecution after their death is unnacceptable. Email Howell at ombudsman@washpost.com to ask for the Post's defense.

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