Equality California, one of the most politically connected gay rights organizations in California, has issued a statement urging a “thorough investigation” of the possible murder of August Provost, a 29-year-old gay African-American sailor who was shot and killed at Camp Pendleton in Southern California last week.

The death has sparked outrage in the gay community — before Provost was killed, he complained of harassment connected to his sexual orientation. Many gay bloggers and activists, such as David Mixner, see the tragedy as another reason for the Obama administration and other Democratic politicians to move quickly to repeal the Pentagon's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.

“One can't help but wonder if Navy Seaman August Provost would be alive today if it weren't for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell',” writes Mixner, a political insider in the Democratic party who got into a major tussle with the Clinton Administration when it came up with that policy.

Addressing Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, Pam Spaulding writes at Pam's House Blend, “If Provost's death turns out to be a hate crime, the blood will be on

their hands for the inaction — leaving gays and lesbians in uniform in

harm's way for the sake of affirming homophobia in the ranks.” 

At Queerty, the gay blog notes that “while the investigation is still under way, Navy brass doesn't

appear even willing to entertain the idea Provost's murder had anything

to do with his sexuality. That's what these soundbite-friendly

statements to the press are for: Turning the story in the media to

sanitize it.”

The Human Rights Campaign, another gay-rights heavyweight, will undoubtedly highlight the Provost killing when it launches a national “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” repeal tour on Wednesday, one that will feature a number of gay military veterans as well as Congressman Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who served in Iraq. HRC had previously been criticized for not pressing for a quick repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

Gay rights activists are organizing a candlelight vigil in San Diego on Friday night to protest the Provost murder.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly