Monday, July 13, 2009

DAY 56: DADT Update

Lieutenant Dan Choi, as you all know, is fighting the military's 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' policy. Choi said he was gay earlier this year, and that the only thing that could have saved him from having to leave service would be to lie.

In the United States, more than 12,000 service members have been dismissed since 1994 because it became known they were gay. Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is another one of them.

Many countries, including 28 NATO allies, have revoked 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policies, and Choi believes that anyone who thinks fellow soldiers would be uncomfortable or unable to deal with gays in the military are actually insulting those who serve.

Back in 1992, Anita Van Der Meer was threatened with discharge from the Australian Navy for being a lesbian. She denied the charge to save her job and later that year the military's ban on gays and lesbians in that country was lifted. This year, Van Der Meer marched proudly with more than 100 other service members in Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade under an Australian Defense Force banner with even a general marching with them!

This year here in San Francisco, I was very privileged to walk in our LGBT Pride Parade with Lt. Choi and members of Knights Out, an organization of OUT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender West Point Alumni and their supporters. Next year how about an official US Army contingent walking in the parade when DADT is a thing of the past? It CAN happen! It should happen!

Gays have always served in this country's military, often with distinction. We serve openly in many other nations of the world, why not here? Polls say the DADT policy should be ended. The latest Gallup poll shows that even a majority of Republicans (58 percent) and weekly churchgoers (60 percent) agree. This is an issue of basic civil rights. Help spread the word!

No comments: