In February we mentioned that a Navy Inspector General found in favor of junior Navy officer Ensign Steve Crowston’s complaint that he had been subjected to homophobic harassment and unfair retaliation. Commander Liam Bruen had given Crowston the call signs, “Fagmeister” and “Romo’s Bitch” (in a reference to quarterback Tony Romo of Crowston’s favorite team the Dallas Cowboys). This week Bruen received an official letter of censure by the Inspector General with a recommendation that Bruen be “detached for cause” or in civilian terms, never promoted ever again.
The Inspector General said that Bruen and Commander Damien Christopher both “failed to perform their leadership responsibilities…because they did not immediately halt the discussion and assignment of call signs that were degrading and embarrassing to squadron personnel during the CSRB.”
The Virginian-Pilot reports:
In February, Bruen was removed from his position as operations officer on the Stennis. In late May, Bruen’s chain of command took the additional step of recommending that he be “detached for cause” for a number of violations, including failing to act on reports that squadron members had emailed offensive material on government computers and approving improper use of rental cars by command members. A detachment for cause often marks the end of an officer’s advancement.
Days later, Bruen retired.
According to Cmdr. Danny Hernandez, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, the circumstances of Bruen’s retirement are under investigation.
Letters of censure from the secretary of the Navy are extremely rare and are often career-killers for anyone on active duty. In an email, Bruen dismissed [Inspector General Ray] Mabus’ action.
“Since I am not in the Navy and was not when the letter was written, I fail to see the appropriateness or validity of (Mabus’) actions,” Bruen wrote.
Yeah, Bruen already retired… why you gotta bring up old shit? It’s interesting though that Bruen’s sudden retirement may have had less to do with his homophobic handles and more to do with his misuse of government resources.
It’s worth noting that Bruen’s censure shows a changing military culture that’s gradually becoming less tolerant to anti-gay slurs. It’s also interesting that Crowston never revealed his sexual identity through the proceedings (most likely to avoid a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell discharge). But maybe a person’s sexual orientation doesn’t matter when homophobic slurs and maltreatment speak for themselves—after all, California lawyers prosecuting Bradon McInerney for his slaying of Lawrence King have basically argued that King’s gay identity should play no role in the jury’s deliberations.
Homophobia is homophobia, no matter the target’s orientation.
The other interesting issue is whether the military will put additional safeguards in place to give queer soldiers redress for anti-gay harassment at the hands of fellow troops. After all, some gay soldiers might have used DADT for the express purpose of no longer having to endure such homophobic harassment.